In 2015, when Zimbabwe’s supreme court interpreted the law to mean that companies could dismiss workers after giving just three months’ notice, without offering any packages or even following any specific retrenchment procedures, the decision lit a fuse. Job security was suddenly a major issue, with widespread concern about mass lay-offs. Rightly so, it would turn out. As the constitutional court said in a recent decision, reaction to the judgment was "a rush by employers" to end employment via three months’ notice. This was done "to save costs in an environment of economic difficulties". While employers used the decision to shed workers and reduce their labour bill, thousands were left jobless and uncompensated for what was often many years’ work. The Economist Intelligence Unit estimated that as many as 30,000 were dismissed after the judgment, including 45% of Harare’s municipal workers. Some unions put the overall number of those terminated in the five weeks following the judgme...

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