Limbe Leaf Tobacco Company Limited has appealed to the High Court in Mzuzu a decision which the Industrial Relations Court (IRC) made for the company to compensate 17 employees it fired in 2016.
The former employees were suspended from work for allegedly failing to meet performance standards during the 2015/16 growing season as well as failing to reconcile tags.
Following the IRC’s decision on May 10, the former employees wrote the company demanding K25 million each totalling K425 million as compensation for unfair dismissal from the company where they were working as field technicians.
Dissatisfied with the ruling, Limbe Leaf Tobacco has taken the matter to the High Court, according to a notice of appeal dated June 8 2021.
Reads the notice of appeal: “Take notice that the Appellant being dissatisfied with the judgement of the Industrial Relations Court sitting in Mzuzu, given on the 10th day of May 2021, appeals to the High Court against such part of the said Judgement as decides that the Appellant failed the test of acting in justice and equity in dismissing the Respondents and should consequently compensate the Respondents for unfair dismissal.”
Lawyer for the 17, Leonard Mbulo yesterday confirmed being served with the notice of appeal but said it will not affect the assessment of compensation.
He said: “They have registered their appeal in the High Court so it will not in any way affect what the IRC ordered.”
Lawyer for Limbe Leaf Tobacco Company Limited in the case Michael Baza said he was not mandated to speak to the media.
The 17 sued the company for unfair dismissal and on Wednesday, their lawyer wrote Limbe Leaf on the proposed compensation.
Details of the IRC 99 of 2017, according to the IRC determination, are that on October 11 2016, the company suspended the 17 for allegedly failing to meet expected performance standards during the 2015/16 growing season, but also failed to reconcile tags.
In December the same year, the 17 were invited to a disciplinary committee, after which their contracts were terminated on charges of dishonesty, gross negligence and gross disorderly conduct resulting in failure to account luggage tags.
The 17 later drag ged Limbe Leaf to court, claiming damages for unfair dismissal as they argued that the duty to reconcile tags was not part of their job, but for bailing clerks.
In court, the determination by IRC deputy chairperson King Mlungu, states that the company’s human resources manager Oliver Kalilani conceded that reconciling tags was not the duty of field technicians; hence, he ordered that compensation be paid to the applicants.