(Nyasaland Union of Teachers (Nyaute) president Willy Malimbo has applied to court to stop government’s acts of intimidation against the union)
Court clerk: All silence! The court of his Lordship Judge Mbadwa is now in session.
Judge Mbadwa: This tribunal is today hearing an application from Willy Malimbo of Nyasaland Union of Teachers. In his application, Malimbo wants this tribunal to stop government and or agents acting for it from intimidating a properly instituted union that speaks for teachers as guided by Labour Laws.
Mr Malimbo can you address this court, why the court should make such an order?
Malimbo: My Lord, you know Nyasaland Union of Teachers (Nyaute) is involved in a labour dispute with government, which is the employer, over the demand for Covid-19 risk allowances.
But my Lord, we believe government is employing intimidating tactics to shut us up and stop us from demanding the allowances.
My lord, government has no basis to stop collecting union fees on behalf of Nyaute and remitting the same to us.
My lord, it is our argument that government and its agents have no sufficient interest in the issue of monthly member’s fees because the money it was collecting doesn’t belong to the employer, but to individual members who surrendered it to the union of their own volition.
This lack of sufficient interest only means one thing; the employer is abusing its authority to stifle the spirit of unionism.
The members entered into a contract with the union and not with government; hence, it cannot curtail the collection of the fees on the basis that our accounts have not been audited for years.
Well, even if it were true that our accounts have not been audited for years, government cannot complain on behalf of our members on this matter. My lord, the fact that our members have not complained all these years means that they have trust in the union that it is properly executing its role for their interest and that their money is safe.
My lord, we also have an issue in the timing of government’s freeze.
Why should government decide to stop the collection of the fees now when Nyaute is deadlocked in a labour dispute?
We perceive this as an uncouth tactic to silence us or cow us into submission and force us to withdraw the industrial action.
My lord, we believe this government action is sowing seeds of divisions among members with a view to encourage discrimination on the basis of trade union membership or activities which the Labour Relations Acts of 1996 envisaged and thus discourage.
We would not want to bring to attention to this court a rumour of a planned stop order on the industrial action because our understanding of the law is that no proceedings can be brought against any employee in respect of any strike or lockout which is in conformity with the law.
The due process was followed in starting this industrial action. Having thus argued, we ask the court to stop government from actions that are against Labour Laws.
Mbadwa: This tribunal agrees that government’s acts are not only ill-timed and ill-advised but also illegal as they contravene the Labour Relations Act. This court agrees such acts by government should not be tolerated in a democratic dispensation.
The employer should not run away from the responsibility of solving the labour dispute it has found itself in because some officials were inflating figures of the allowances they gave to teachers when the Covid-19 pandemic had just set in.
I thus hereby order that the freeze of the fees is irregular and illegal. Government should resolve its dispute with teachers within seven days by following laid down procedures as guided by the Labour Laws. n
With Emmanuel Luciano
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