Former employees of Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) have sued the parastatal and pension-fund managers Old Mutual Malawi Limited for their retrenchment benefits, demanding a collective K3 billion-plus.
The 4 062 ex-workers are seeking K3 billion pension funds, unpaid salary for skeleton staff, public holidays’ pay, four hours overtime and repatriation allowance, according to case number 231 of 2023 filed at the Industrial Relations Court (IRC), Mzuzu Registry.
In an affidavit The Nation has seen, the employees, led by one Samuel Katambika state that they had diligently discharged duties since 1992 and that from September 1 2022 to January 31 2023, they were sent on leave pending restructuring.
After Admarc made a decision not to close the company because certain activities such as selling of maize in various markets needed to continue, some employees were retained and they claim that they did not get their dues for five months.
Reads the affidavit in part: “That after being retrenched on 31st January, 2023 it was our expectation that we will access our pension benefits after the expiry of the period of three months from the 2nd Respondent amounting to K3 billion.
“However, despite our several follow ups with the 2nd Respondent [Old Mutual] we are yet to access the said sum of K3 billion as our pension funds.”
The ex-employees also claim four-hours overtime for each working day from 2013, contending that Admarc has neglected to pay them, despite promising to pay the same after subtracting from duty allowance received from 2013 to the date of retrenchment.
In an interview yesterday, former Admarc workers’ union president John Hassan said they were only paid a retrenchment or severance package of about K6 billion, and are yet to get the rest of the money.
He said: “We have been suffering because they do not want to pay our dues. This is why we have taken the matter to court.
“We were only paid a retrenchment package depending on length of service. At first, they said they would pay K8 billion for severance that included a repatriation package. However, after auditors came, the repatriation package was removed from the K8 billion, and we were given about K6 billion.”
The ex-employees’ lawyer Leonard Mbulo said the K3 billion in pension funds relate to arrears that Admarc did not remit to Old Mutual, adding that the money has now been reduced to K300 million after some payments were made to the staff.
He said: “From the K3 billion, Treasury released K2.2 billion and on June 27 2023, Admarc remitted the funds to Old Mutual. Another K500 million was released and Admarc paid that on July 17 2023. So, the total is K3 billion, but the balance to be remitted is K300 million.
“The court did not hear the matter on Wednesday, but it will give another date on Monday [next week]. The computation for other funds is still underway as it involves a number of documents but the exercise will be done when we meet again in court.”
Admarc spokesperson Agnes Chikoko Ndovie asked for a questionnaire which she had not yet responded to by press time at 8pm yesterday.
In September 2022, government closed Admarc and sent its entire staff on paid leave to pave the way for restructuring.
However, a skeleton staff continued to perform some of its social services.