High Court Judge Chimbizgani Kacheche is on August 2, 2022, expected to determine whether 99 State Residences employees should be granted a stay order against government’s decision to redeploy them to other posts within the public sector.
Last month, government transferred 136 employees from State Residences to various departments within the public service, but the 99 went to the Industrial Relations Court (IRC) to stop the transfers.
The IRC rejected the application, prompting the employees to seek the injunction from the High Court.
But in court Tuesday, Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda argued that the application should not be entertained.
Nyirenda said after being denied the injunction at the IRC, the applicants were supposed to go to the High Court only to seek an appeal and not raise the same claim.
He said one can either go to the High Court to commence fresh claims or to appeal a decision made by a subordinate court, which the applicants apparently never did.
Nyirenda added that the group did not follow the directions given by the IRC.
“One of the directions made by the Industrial Relations Court was that for it to be entertained, there is a need for permission of the High Court, which was not sought. Instead of the group complying with the direction, they went straight to the High Court to seek an injunction,” he said.
In an interview after the adjournment, the AG said government can transfer its employees to other departments for the sake of efficiency.
“A civil servant is employed by the Civil Service Commission, and not by the particular department or institution they are working for.
“They can be redeployed to any place. You cannot say you want to stay in town and not be transferred to Chitipa or Nsanje, for example. Otherwise, who will work there if that is the case?” Nyirenda queried.
On his part, lawyer representing the 99, Luciano Mickeus, said the move by the government is against the law which protects workers.
“The grounds relating to the claim we have advanced before the court is that the treatment which the claimants are being subjected to is unfair and against fair labour practices.
“Employees are protected by that practice, and the way they are being treated in this matter is not fair under the employment law. We will be waiting to hear what the court’s determination will be,” Mickeus said.
The State Residences workers further argue that they are in permanent employment and that they were not consulted about the redeployments.