Fired Vale staff want K4.6bn compensation hearing to proceed with or without lawyer: Matter adjourned

The Industrial Relations Case (IRC) in Blantyre was on Tuesday forced to adjourn a case in which eight employees that were abruptly fired by Vale Logistics of Brazil dragged their employer to the court for alleged unfair dismissals.

Vale Logistics of Brazil constructing a US$1billion (K750billion) trans-Malawi railway project that connects two pivotal points of its operations in Western and Eastern Mozambique through Malawi. 

Lawyer representing the eight, but are now seven after one of them died, did not show up at the court and was reportedly in self-isolation after he got in contact with a person who tested positive to Covid-19, according to Christopher Chiumia, a representative of the complainants.

Chiumia, frustrated that the matter has been in court for six years now after their dismissals in October 2014, asked IRC to allow that they proceed with hearing of the matter with or without their lawyer.

But deputy acting chairperson of IRC Innocent Nebi reasoned with the complainants that they are better off represented by their lawyer, asking them to accept adjournment.

They accepted and Nebi adjourned the case to a date to be communicated.

Chiumia, before the adjournment, told the court that they were disturbed because their lawyer did not communicate to the court about his absence or about the intended adjournment and were afraid the court was to dismiss the case, having done so previously.

He said after the matter was dismissed previously after miscommunication by some two lawyers that were previously representing them, they had to take necessary steps to have it restored.

Chiumia said it was for this reason they wanted to proceed in absence of their lawyer.

Lawyer representing Vale Logistics, Mabvuto Hara arrived at the court after the case was already adjourned.

Vale Logistics is the company Malawi government involved on trans-Malawi railway project. that will transport 18 million tonnes of coal from Mozambique.

Created and built by multidisciplinary construction company Mota Engil Africa, the railway line is part of the Nacala Development Corridor that seeks to benefit several Southern African Development Community countries, including Malawi.

Distances can be cut in transporting Mozambican coal by taking cargo through neighbouring Malawi. Mozambique has some of the world’s largest untapped coal reserves.

Malawi government  reportedly gave out a bit too much in the initial deal, due to lack of negotiating skills as the reason for the extent of the exemption

In the raw deal, Malawi gave away corporate tax calculated at 30 percent and value added tax (VAT) at 16.5 percent, gave a number of other tax exemptions, and “technically accepted to forego potential foreign exchange earnings”.

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Martin Soko
Martin Soko
1 year ago

It is sad to have a case for 7 years without being heard at IRC.Malawi please lets do away wth all forms of corruption.theres a lot of cases at Industrial relations Court and government is not coming forth wth judges at IRC to resolve all the back log.its very sad because people are suffering for many years aftr being unfairly dismissed.what is tye Attorney General,Chief justice,Malawi law commission doing on this???I will write Chakwera and Chilima to entervene sizooona wats happening.

1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Soko

IRC is indeed another governmwnt institution that needs to be scrutinised. Alot of cases are roting at this court and the judge dont even care. Pls bwana vp visit the institution and appreciate how people have suffered due to thie courts incompetence. The ambudsman has tried to warn this court but nothing is changing.

Alamu Pumani Mwakalamba

Vale and other companies must respect the Employment Act. They are not above the law.

1 year ago

Justice must prevail and these international companies must not be allowed to violate peoples labour rights.

Last edited 1 year ago by Yolanda
Alamu Pumani Mwakalamba

Let’s hope he gets justice this time around. These guys have gone through a lot of hell because of racism that is at Vale. When the white bosses see that someone local employee has brilliant ideas more than them hatred comes in and they find a way to get rid of such people. I am working with Vale and I know Chris. He is a true professional and well educated.

Alamu Pumani Mwakalamba

What is the Ministry of Justice or the Chief Justice doing about the injustice that people are suffering when they go to IRC. There too many political cases in the courts of Malawi and they are given attention and yet the poor fired employees do not get justice in time. We have a shithole justice system. The lawyers are becoming very dishonest these days.

1 year ago

These lawyers must be disciplined for swindling their clients and understandably these complainants engaged Lusungu Gondwe and Mr. Manda and they ended up swindling these poor guys. Why do they do that? It is very unethical. On part of Vale, we thought it was one of the best companies in Malawi and that the people were very happy. Vale should be ashamed first for killing hundreds of people in a poorly constructed dam in Brazil in 2019 and secondly for dismissing these people without following procedures. Such employers must be punished and they will stop this stupid behaviour. You go… Read more »

Malumbo Gondwe
Malumbo Gondwe
1 year ago

I feel for my friend Chris. Was unfairly dismissed indeed. Such a great professional

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