Former employees of the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) have questioned failure by the tax authority to pay their full terminal benefits despite management's concession that the tax collection body erred in retrenching them.
The 215 employees, who were retrenched by the tax body in 2010, decry the slow pace their case is moving at the Industrial Relations Court (IRC), saying it was worsening their economic situation.
But lawyer for the retrenched employees said his clients are victims of a rigorous judicial process.
"We are frustrated by the delays in paying our terminal benefits since MRA has failed to re-instate us. We have been patiently waiting for over two years and now our patience is running thin. We have families to feed, some of our colleagues are sick and can't access medical treatment while others have passed away," said Charles Mwasi, representative for the former staff.
In April the former workers petitioned President Joyce Banda to intervene. Subsequently, in July the MRA board approved management's request to review the implementation of the restructuring exercise that led to the retrenchment.
The board conceded that the exercise was "not done properly" therefore the retrenched staff would be recalled.
However, close to six months down the line most of the retrenched staff have not yet been recalled, neither have they received their dues.
"MRA released a list of 57 people to be re-engaged but only four so far have been taken in. We don't know the criteria they used," said Mwasi, adding: "We are asking for our money if they can't allow us back. Why are we being treated this way?"
Lawyer for the former employees Noel Chalamanda told Malawi News on Wednesday that he is trying to push for a quick determination to the case.
"Of course the case has delayed but now it has been given priority. We asked for an 'expedited hearing' which has been granted. The problem has been that for the court to sit there should be a panel of three judges. This is not an easy thing because of various commitments," he said.
Chalamanda said MRA conceded making a mistake in retrenching his clients. He said the tax collection body recruited only a few of those it fired.
"There is need to look at the issue of fairness in terms of benefits. That is where there was no agreement," he said.
MRA lawyer Patrice Nkhono could not be reached for comment but the case which was scheduled to be heard on Friday has since been shifted to another date.