Some 87 employees of South Africa based international passenger transport operator, Intercape, have dragged their employer to court over unpaid salaries for the past five months.
It has transpired that the company has already moved five out of its seven busses that were in Malawi to South Africa.
Some of the employees who confided in the Daily Times on condition of anonymity indicated that the company resorted to stop paying them their dues without proper communication.
They, further, say they are being threatened that they will lose their jobs for taking the company to court.
“We are claiming for unpaid salaries and that they didn’t follow Malawi labour laws,” said one of the employees.
A statement of claim from the Industrial Relations Court (IRC), matter number IRC 343/2020, that we have seen confirms the development where the company is accused of breach of contract by withholding wages.
A letter from the employer to its Malawi employees, dated June 9, 2020, that we have seen, indicates that Intercape’s operations in all countries seized in totality since March 26, 2020.
It says this means all sources of income for the company stopped since the start of the various lockdowns in all the respective countries of operation.
“Intercape has always been of the view that the priority must remain our employees and therefore, every employee was paid in full for April 2020, instead of staggering payments over the coming months. With no income into operations, it has become impossible to pay salaries any further from May 2020.
“It has however come to that stage that we, as a collective, must decide which route we are going to take, the short term or long term option. Exco’s viewpoint suits the long-term narrative of still being able to operate in the future,” reads the letter in part.
It further stated that the opposite view was a complete permanent closure of Intercape’s operations in Malawi and await any winding up procedures to be instituted.
“In this option, however, everybody loses. Nobody will receive any retrenchment payouts. Even valued clients in Malawi will lose,” the letter said.
In an interview Intercape Country Manager for Malawi, Joseph Dziwani, confirmed that they are answering a case at the IRC in Lilongwe from their employees.
“The position of the company was that we will not be able to pay salaries since we are not operating, including myself I have not been paid since May but the other employees claim that they cannot be a temporally lay off hence taking the company to court. The idea was everyone will come back to work once boarders are open and the company is running,” Dziwani said.
He added the company expects to resume operations end next month or early November as Covid-19 restrictions are easing up.