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Ombudsman bails sacked NLS staff

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Martha Chizuma

The Office of the Ombudsman has directed that National Library Service (NLS) should reinstate five of its members of staff who were dismissed following a strike that took place in 2019.

Apart from dismissing the five, NLS also demoted one employee and transferred six others, decisions which Ombudsman Martha Chizuma, has said should be reversed.

In 2019, NLS staff went on an indefinite strike demanding a salary increase.

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A determination by the Ombudsman dated August 27, 2020 has said findings of her office established that poor and retaliate leadership manifested by the conduct of the NLS management during the strike perpetuated an already volatile situation.

“Instead of managing the staff, management was fighting with staff. With that environment, the National Librarian further abused his position effecting dismissals, transfers, withholding of salaries and demotions amounting to unfair discharge of functions.

“The respondent should reinstate Walusungu Simbeye, Bunaya Banda, Nita Kasanga, Ronald Mpweya and Peter Kandulu immediately. Stella Buwani’s demotion is hereby nullified. The respondent should reinstate her original position and should be paid back the difference in salary between her original post and her demoted post,’’ reads part of the determination.

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It further states that Andrew Kandulu should be compensated for the loss of scholarship which was clearly as a result of management deliberate delays to sign the scholarship forms.

She further directed that the amount given should be K800, 000 considering all circumstances of the case.

The complainants logged their complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman through the Human Rights Consultative Committee in September 2019 claiming unfair treatment and abuse of office by the National Library Service management.

Communication Workers Union General Secretary, Hamilton Deleza, has since hailed the determination, saying the union is happy that the concerned people have now seen justice.

“As a union, we get sad to see people being sacked or indeed demoted for no apparent reasons. We are happy with the development,” he said.

Buwani who was demoted is Chairperson of National Library Communication Workers Union of Malawi and used to speak on behalf of the striking staff.

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