Disgruntled employees battling for justice with their employers can now have a sigh of relief after 20 panellists were sworn in at Industrial Relations Court following a nine months absence stalling hearing of cases.
Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda SC swore in 10 panellists for the court in the south and he is soon to swear six more for the centre and four for the north.
The employers’ panellists are as follows: Blantyre—Ivy Kwatiwani, Frank Chakanga, Emmanuel Banda, Mirriam Luhanga and Justice Matonga; Lilongwe—Alick Sikelo, Yacinto Chikapa and Lameck Gonani; and Mzuzu— Kisa Mwafulirwa and Cecilia Nyirenda.
On the other hand, employees in Blantyre are represented on the panel by Sophie Chitenje, Hellen Mtete, Charles Mikundi, Expert Sinjani and Kondwani Kazembe; Lilongwe employees’ representatives are Peter Kamzitu, Robert Mkwezalamba and Zione Manjawira whereas Mzuzu employees are represented by Alexander Lungu and Mercy Kachale.
Nyirenda said it was cheerful moment to swear-in the panellists after hearing of industrial cases stalled for months.
“This will help clear a backlog of cases because both employees and employers could not access the counrt for months. This was a matter of concern because matters of employment are human rights issues,” said Nyirenda.
Hearing of the cases stalled because Employers Consultative Association of Malawi and Malawi Congress of Trade Unions of Malawi could not agree on the names selected as panellists for the court.
Cases at the court are heard before a judge and panellists who are representatives of employees and employers appointed from Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) and Employers Association of Malawi (Ecam)and they make their input before a presiding judicial officer makes a determination.
The panellists receive only K2 000 as daily sitting allowance.
Officials from the court say there are now 700 new cases in addition to the old untackled 3000 cases meaning the new panellists have close to 4000 cases to be heard.