Taxpayers will have to part with about K700 million to compensate Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) ex-workers who sued the public tax collector for unfair dismissal’in 2010.
High Court judge Kenyatta Nyirenda directed the public tax collector to pay the ex-employees following their appeal against an earlier ruling made by the Industrial Relations Court (IRC) in Blantyre.
The case dates back to July 2010 when MRA dismissed 215 employees, but 167 sued the institution after their colleagues were re-engaged.
The ex-workers, as their overriding reason for suing, argued they were declared redundant without being consulted which was in contravention of Section 57 of the Act.
Subsequently, in October 2014 the IRC ruled in their favour and directed MRA to pay them about K500 million as compensation which the ex-employees were unsatisfied with and appealed the matter to the High Court.
According to a notice of appeal, the ex-workers through their lawyer Shepher Mumba, filed 10 grounds, among them, that the IRC erred in law in dismissing their prayer for payment of redundancy benefits and notice pay in line with MRA’s conditions of service.
Accordingly, Nyirenda agreed with some of the appellants’ arguments and ruled in their favour having observed that MRA used a wrong formula for calculating their severance allowance, notice pay and redundancy benefits.
The court then directed MRA to pay its former employees because their “wages or salaries” were underpaid.
Reads part of the ruling: “… as the respondent had failed to prove that there was non-mitigation of losses on the part of the appellants, the award by the lower court [IRC] of 30 months’ salary would be beefed up by an additional 12 months’ salary.
“And on ground of appeal no. 10, there is no basis for awarding interest but the compensatory award is to be boosted by 25 percent to take into account ravages of inflation and devaluation of the currency.”
The judge then ordered that since he had no sufficient details to determine the amount due to the appellants, MRA and the ex-workers should calculate and agree on the sums due within 14 days from May 18 2017.
Further, the judge said should they fail, the Registrar of the High Court of Malawi has to appoint a date for purposes of assessing the amounting of money payable to the appellants.
According to some of the ex-workers, there are now about 156 of them after some died while waiting for judgement although the IRC ordered MRA to pay those deceased in a similar manner through their representatives.
The ex-employees said, the amount came to about K700 million after their computation, and through their lawyer, the same was presented to MRA to effect payment.
When contacted yesterday to explain on the court ruling and the compensation, MRA deputy director of corporate affairs Steve Kapoloma requested for a written questionnaire which had not been responded to as we went to press.
Mumba declined to comment when The Nation sought his reactions on the matter. n