Mtawali v ADMARC (IRC 20 of 2005 ) (20 of 2005) [2007] MWIRC 10 (30 January 2007);

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IN THE INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COURT OF MALAWI


MZUZU REGISTRY


MATTER NO. IRC 20 OF 2005


BETWEEN


MTAWALI.............................………………….….…………………………………………. APPLICANT


AND


ADMARC……………………………………...…………….………….…………………..RESPONDENT



CORAM: R. Zibelu Banda (Ms) Chairperson

Nyirenda A (Ms); Assistant Registrar, High Court (Mzuzu Registry)

Applicant; Present

Majengo; Acting Regional Human Resources Officer

Namponya; Official Interpreter


JUDGMENT

Background

The applicant was employed as a seasonal worker. At the end of each season he would receive his wages and be let free. During the off season period he was free to work anywhere for any employer. At the beginning of each season he was free to ask for employment and the respondent was free to either employ him or not. This cause of action was brought about because of a letter which the applicant received advising him that his employment contract had been upgraded to permanent employee (confirmed). The applicant enquired to have further details from management. He was informed that the letter was a mistake and that no action would be taken on it. Indeed the status of the applicant remained as before:- seasonal worker.


The applicant claimed that he was unfairly dismissed. He said he was not paid notice pay, severance allowance, gratuity, leave pay, salary increments and compensation for unfair dismissal. The respondent was able to show that the applicant received all his dues some of the dues he received after he had complained at Malawi Carer, a civil society organization that handles human rights violations. The respondent averred that the applicant was not dismissed as his employment as seasonal worker depended on availability of work in the agricultural calendar.




The Law

Seasonal employment is common in Malawi especially in the agricultural industry. During peak period in the agricultural calendar more human resource is required to buy agricultural products from farmers but also to sell agricultural inputs like fertilizers. After this buying season there is no requirement for additional staff hence they are shed off. The employment is terminated by completion of a task. This is a contract to perform specific task.


The employer is not required to give notice under such contracts neither is the employer required to give reason for the termination, as long as it is effected at the completion of the task. In this case the court heard that the termination was in accordance with the specific terms applicable to a seasonal worker.


Finding

The court finds that the respondent acted fairly in this matter. There are no compelling reasons for the court to interfere with the decision of the respondent. The applicant had his services terminated at the completion of a task. He was paid all his dues. There is no sustainable claim. The matter is dismissed in its entirety.


Any party aggrieved by this decision is at liberty to appeal to the High Court within 30 days of this date. Appeal lies in matters of law or jurisdiction, see, section 65 (2) Labour Relations Act 1996.


Pronounced this 30th day of January 2007 at MZUZU.



Rachel Zibelu Banda

CHAIRPERSON.