Jonasi v Pres Agriculture Ltd (RC 105 of 20022 ) (105 of 20022) [2007] MWIRC 71 (31 December 2007);

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IN THE INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COURT OF MALAWI


PRINCIPAL REGISTRY


MATTER NO. IRC 105 OF 2002


BETWEEN


JONASI……..………………..…………………………………………… APPLICANT


-and-


PRESS AGRICULTURE LTD………….…………………………… RESPONDENT



CORAM: RACHEL ZIBELU BANDA (MS); CHAIRPERSON
NC KAJOMBO; EMPLOYEES’ PANELIST
JE CHILENGA; EMPLOYERS’ PANELIST
Chayekha; of Counsel for the Applicant
Mussa; of Counsel for the Respondent
Nyabanga; Official Interpreter


JUDGMENT

  1. Dismissal-Reason-Misconduct-Dishonesty-Failure to account for money-Mis-use of company fuel

  2. Procedure-Right to be heard-Right to defend oneself


Facts

The applicant was dismissed for a number of acts of misconduct namely: (1) signing for maize mill and police escort money in a payroll but not remitting the money to rightful owners (2) collecting wages without police escort (3) collecting unclaimed wages without signing any document (4) failure to release TO for diesel for a recipient to raise a corresponding TI and pulling out the TI from a book and (5) admission of failure to supervise clerks leading to loss of maize flour. The applicant was invited to a disciplinary hearing to answer these allegations. His explanation was not convincing hence the termination. He averred that the dismissal was unfair. The respondent contended that dismissal was fair. The applicant had misconducted himself. He was entitled to be dismissed summarily. They averred that the applicant had been warned before and he was given a fair hearing.


The Law

The Employment Act provides that an employer is entitled to dismiss summarily an employee guilty of serious misconduct inconsistent with the fulfillment of the expressed or implied conditions of his contract of employment such that it would be unreasonable to require the employer to continue the employment relationship, see section 59 of the Employment Act. It has been held in this court that dishonesty is an act of misconduct warranting summary dismissal; see generally Ibrahim v Suncrest Creameries Ltd [Matter Number IRC 73 of 2003 (unreported)]IRC.


In the instant case the applicant tried to show that he was not involved in any dishonesty activities. The explanation of the applicant at the disciplinary hearing was not convincing, hence the dismissal. After hearing the applicant, the court did not see any compelling reason to interfere with the respondent’s decision. The applicant had previously been warned for acts of misconduct. He was given a fair hearing to state his case and defend himself. The respondent acted fairly.


Finding

The reason for dismissal was valid and process before dismissal was fair. The court therefore finds that the dismissal was fair. This action is dismissed in its entirety.


Severance allowance

Dishonesty is an act of serious misconduct entitling an employer to dismiss summarily. Where dismissal is fair for an act of misconduct, an employee is not entitled to severance allowance according to section 35(6) of the Employment Act. In this case therefore severance allowance is not payable. The claim for severance allowance fails.


Motor vehicle allowance

The applicant sort to show that he was entitled to motor vehicle allowance. However he was not able to prove this entitlement. It is therefore dismissed.


Any party aggrieved by this decision is at liberty to appeal to the High Court within 30 days of this judgment.


Made this 31st day of December 2007 at Blantyre.



Rachel Zibelu Banda

CHAIRPERSON



Nick Chifundo Kajombo

EMPLOYEES’ MEMBER PANELIST



Joel Evalisto Chilenga

EMPLOYERS’ MEMBER PANELIST