MBC, retrenched workers in court over unpaid K179m arrears

The battle between Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and some of its retrenched employees is still raging on with the two parties, currently, in court fighting over 18 months unpaid salary arrears amounting to about K179 million, Nyasa Times has established.

MBC, in 2011, retrenched 325 employees in what was termed as restructuring process following the dissolution and absorption of Television Malawi (TVM) into Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).

The employees, after a year-long court battle, finally left the institution in July 2012 after pocketing their pension benefits from Old Mutual.

However, the legal battle between the two parties seems to be far from over as 196 members of the retrenched staffs are claiming unpaid arrears in relation to MBC salary increment that was effected by Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) on 1st February, 2011 while they were still in the system.

MBC broadcasing house in Blantyre
MBC broadcasing house in Blantyre

According to court documents at Industrial Relations Court (IRC), MBC is refusing to concede defeat despite a court advice during a pre-trial hearing to pay the claimed arrears.

The public broadcaster, through its legal counsel of Mbendera & Nkhono Associates has, however, opted for full trial in a bid to quash out the demanded claims, arguing they are unjustified.

The retrenched employees argue that they were not paid their salary arrears although the new salary structure was implemented while they were still working for corporation.

“The way how the new salary structure was implemented as approved by government was discriminatory as it was only the top management that were given their arrears. And despite efforts to resolve the issue amicably; the management seem not to put much consideration in finding a lasting solution to the matter,” argue the retrenched staffs.

About 19 of the retrenched employees pursuing the case were from TVM while the remaining 177 were those that were fired from MBC radio across the country.

Meanwhile, the court has adjourned the hearing of the case, which was to resume on 29 July, 2013 to a later date.

Apart from claiming the unpaid salary arrears, the retrenched staffs had fought their former employer over unfair dismissal, withheld wages bonuses, overtime pay, notice pay, severance pay, pension benefits, and discrimination among other issues.

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