AG says to appeal on 25 Road Traffic employees case

AG says to appeal on 25 Road Traffic employees case

The Attorney General says he will appeal the case in which the Industrial Relations Court (IRC) last month ordered the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) to promote 25 road transport assistants and assistant road transport officers.

The 25, who have since written the AG, querying the lack of enforcement on the ruling, dragged the directorate to court in 2023, claiming unfair labour practices and breach of agreement, among other issues.

Chakaka-Nyirenda: We will appeal the ruling

The bone of contention was its failure to promote the assistant road transport officers and road transport assistants to road transport officers.

This was despite an agreement that promotions would be effected following qualification upgrade.

Through their lawyer Mauya Msuku, the disgruntled employees wrote AG Thabo Chakaka-Nyirenda on Tuesday, reminding him of the ruling.

The ruling was delivered on December 18 2023 by IRC deputy chairperson Edna Bodole.

In a telephone interview, Msuku said despite the ruling not giving a specific time frame when the promotions should be made, by principles of law, it meant enforcement was supposed to be effective from the date of its issuance.

He said: “We wrote the AG to comply with the ruling. My assumption is that he is yet to receive the letter because he has not responded.”

Msuku said they may be compelled to move the courts should he not respond at their expected time.

But in a brief response on Friday, Chakaka-Nyirenda said his office will be appealing against the ruling.

According to court documents Nation on Sunday has seen, DRTSS advertised for the position despite agreeing with the 25 employees that they would instead promote them to the position.

The court documents show the 25 employees, who are in grades K and M, were encouraged by directorate management to upgrade their qualifications.

Minutes of meetings pertaining to the discussions were tendered in court as part of evidence.

“It was agreed that those who got degrees in logistics or mechanics would be promoted to the position of Road Transport Officer Grade I in line with applicable conditions of service,” reads part of the court documents.

But in their submissions before the court, DRTSS argued that obtaining a degree does not guarantee a promotion.

Court documents show that DRTSS argued that some officers serving on higher grades such as grade I were promoted due to their experience.

It further argued that it is the employer who knows skills required for a particular job and advertises to suit what they want in terms of experience and qualifications.

Read the court documents further: “In the present case, the advertised posts always require someone with a degree in mechanical engineering or automobile engineering. The advertisement did not exclude serving officers such that any officer, whether already working with DRTSS or not was at liberty to apply for the position and that after the interview could be considered.”

In its submissions, it further argued that the Department of Human Resource Management and Development is responsible for approving relevant qualifications for a particular position.

As such, the directorate argued that the employees’ entitlement in the absence of approval from its human resource department was baseless.

But minutes of meetings between employees and management show the agreement about the promotions.

In her ruling, Bodole found DRTSS guilty of violating Section 21 of the Malawi Public Service Commission as regards promotion of the 25 employees.

The regulations state that all public officers shall be treated equally and fairly in all aspects of human resource management and development.

Bodole also observed that DRTSS did not take into account legitimate expectations by the 25 employees; hence, directed they should be compensated for unfair labour practices.

Reads the ruling: “The applicants [25 employees] are successful in their claims. The applicants should, therefore, be promoted by the respondent [DRTSS]. The respondent should follow the procedure laid down under Regulation 21 of the Malawi Public Service Commission Regulations.

“Assessment of compensation for unfair labour practices will be conducted on a date to be fixed.” n

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