Illovo Sugar Malawi plc has fired 45 management staff from its Dwangwa and Nchalo sugar factories, but some of the affected workers claim the process lacked transparency and violated the company’s retrenchment policy.
Some of the affected workers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said all management positions were terminated and employees were asked to apply for newly created positions while others were asked to go on early retirement.
Said one of the fired workers: “The retrenchment process was unfair, calculation of packages was not transparent.”
“The worker said the company recruited head of human resources for both Nchalo and Dwangwa estates, financial analysts, a corporate affairs team, a commercial team at Limbe, Blantyre office before retrenching the affected workers.
Currently, most of the workers The Nation engaged said they are still with the company until June as part of the handover and transition process; hence, they could not reveal their identities in fear of reprisals.
In a written response, the Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE)-listed sugar manufacturer’s spokesperson Ireen Phalula said the company has adopted a new operating model in line with its strategic intent to secure long-term sustainability of the business in light of the continued challenging business environment.
She said: “The elimination of some roles and subsequent retrenchment of some employees has got nothing to do with the novel coronavirus [Covid-19]. The affected employees are being paid severance packages that are in line with the labour laws of Malawi.
“They are also being paid additional payments in line with our retrenchment policy.
“Each of the affected employees has been communicated to individually. All employees were taken through the various stages of the [retrenchment] process which commenced November last year”.
Reacting to the development, Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) secretary general Denis Kalekeni said it would be cheaper for Illovo to compensate the affected workers fairly and in line with labour laws and the company’s policies