Seventeen former fiel technicians at Limbe Leaf Tobacco Company Limited are demanding K425 million in compensation for unfair dismissal in December 2016.
The demand follows a May 10 2021 determination by the Industrial Relations Court (IRC) in Mzuzu that the company should compensate the 17 for unfair and unjust dismissal.
The complainants were suspended from work for allegedly failing to meet performance standards and to reconcile tags during the 2015-16 tobacco growing season.
The 17, who are demanding K25 million each, sued the company for unfair dismissal through lawyer Leonard Mbulo.
On Wednesday, Mbulo wrote Limbe Leaf Tobacco Company Limited on the proposed compensation, and is awaiting a response from the company.
He stated: “After considering all the factors, the applicants are proposing the sum of K25 million each as damages for unfair dismissal, inclusive of all ancillary remedies.
“Thus, in total, the applicants are proposing the sum of K425 million as damages for unfair dismissal and its ancillary remedies.”
Mbulo said the applicants are willing to have the issue of damages for unfair dismissal and other benefits resolved out of court to save court’s time.
Limbe Leaf Tobacco Company Limited lawyer Michael Baza did not pick up his phone when contacted.
Details of the case, number IRC 99 of 2017, according to the IRC determination, are that on October 11 2016 the company suspended the 17 for allegedly failing to reconcile tags and to meet expected performance standards during the 2015/16 growing season.
An appeals committee at the company upheld the verdict after an appeal was made, compelling the 17 to sue the company claiming damages for unfair dismissal as they argued that the duty to reconcile tags was not part of their job, but that of bailing clerks.
In court, the determination by IRC deputy chairperson King Mlungu states that the company’s human resources manager Oliver Kalilani conceded that the reconciling of tags was not the duty of field technicians, but the court slapped both parties for failing to bring in bailing clerks to testify on the job descriptions.
As such, Mlungu ordered that compensation be paid to the applicants, but that calculation of the same must take into account “the applicants’ blameworthiness”.