Tussling continues in a labour dispute between Malawiâ€™s Clerk of Parliament (CoP) Matilda Katopola and her employers, as the State has made a counter-claim against her earlier applications, leaving the case to go for full trial.
Katopola wants the Industrial Relations Court (IRC) in Malawiâ€™s capital, Lilongwe, to declare that the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) constructively fired her and should compensate her accordingly.
During a pre-trial hearing Tuesday afternoon before IRC assistant registrar Brian Katimba, both parties agreed that the case goes into trial after the Attorney Generalâ€™s office, which is representing PSC, filed for counter-arguments on Katopolaâ€™s applications.
â€œThe AGâ€™s office has responded to the claimantâ€™s applications that she was dismissed, which we deny in its totality; by way of filing counter-arguments against her applications. The applicant has absconded duties for no good reason despite being recalled,â€ said acting chief State advocate Dr. Zolomphi Nkowani.
This was after Katopola, through her new legal counsel, presented six relief grounds substantiating her claim that she was unfairly dismissed.
â€œMy client was constructively dismissed and, therefore, claiming damages for unfair dismissal, claiming compensation for using unfair labour practices, severance pay and all terminal benefitsâ€, said Mercy Mulele, who has taken over Katopolaâ€™s case.
In an interview outside the courtroom, Nkowani said: â€œthe State has made a counter-claim because Katopola is still the CoP but she has been absconding her duties. Details of this will be made available in the files during the trial.
â€œHowever, I must say that we are going to amend our defence points in order to add more substance to our arguments.â€
Mulele declined to talk to the press after the case was adjourned for trial at a date to be agreed by both sides.
On July 26 2012, Katopola filed a case at the IRC, asking the court to declare her as having been constructively dismissed and that the conduct of the PSC amounted to unfair labour practices.