Access to justice is a fundamental human right which the government is determined to uphold through the establishment of the high court industrial relations division, Minister of Labour and Social Security Fackson Shamenda has said.
The Circuit court which has been launched first in North-western Province would have two, 21- day sessions in Solwezi and Livingstone.
Speaking during the launch of the high court industrial relations division court at Solwezi Magistrate Court, Mr. Shamenda said with the new mining and development status, the province had seen an influx of job seekers and employees which is an indication that the rate of labour disputes would increase.
Mr. Shamenda said the workers’ court should be used by all employees who feel unfairly treated.
“Most companies can afford to have a court case for a long period of time but for workers left destitute it is delayed justice which makes them poorer,” he said.
Mr Shamenda said the launch of the court marked the beginning of Government’s programme of bringing accessible justice closer to the Zambian people in time.
He hailed the decision to decentralise the industrial relations court to the province.
Mr. Shamenda has however advised workers to exhaust all administrative procedures available to them in their organizations before rushing to the circuit court.
“It should be further noted that the labour offices are not part of the administrative channels as administrative channels are internalized,” he said.
He urged staff of the Ministry of Labour to give advice in line with the laws in their attempt to resolve disputes between employers and employees.
Mr. Shamenda said it was after exhausting the internal process that the aggrieved could proceed to the circuit court if their concerns are not addressed within 90 days.
“I am convinced that the judges will deliver their judgment expeditiously and that our workers who have been unfairly treated or dismissed would receive timely justice,” he said.
And Judge Edward Musona said industrial and employment disputes from North-western province will be heard and determined in Solwezi by the industrial relations division of the high court to lessen travel costs and delays.
He said arrangements have already been made for litigants to file in their submissions in Solwezi to ensure quick and fair justice.
Judge Musona said a circuit session in North-western Province as the first of its kind would bring justice as close to the beneficiaries as possible
“Our view is that justice should be delivered timely and without undue delay,” he said.