Air Zimbabwe management said Tuesday that it had fired all 40 striking pilots who defied a 24-hour deadline to return to work to end a week-long labor action.
Reports said the airline’s board of directors evoked provisions of the Labor Act to sack the 40 pilots who are demanding payment of outstanding salaries and allowances.
Air Zimbabwe Chairman Jonathan Kadzura refused to comment when reached by VOA though news reports said his board will no longer entertain demands by the pilots. He was reported to have said that the pilots fired themselves by embarking on what he termed an illegal strike.
But labor experts said the airline's move violates the country's Labor Act, and that the state carrier can only dismiss the pilots if they fail to give the Labor Ministry valid reasons for striking.
Labor and Social Welfare Minister Paurina Gwanyanya Mpariwa told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that the airline has not yet informed her ministry about the striking pilots.
Economist Godfrey Kanyenze of the Labor and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe said the airline should engage the pilots in talks instead of firing them.
The pilots have vowed not to return to work until operational allowances, said to be 20 months in arrears, have been brought up to date. Air Zimbabwe pilots are paid US$2,500 a month, which is said to be about one third of the normal scale for international airline pilots.