injustice

Zambian family kicked out of housing

What will they live on now?

In December of 2010 a man with a family of seven was illegally fired from his job at PAMA Meats where he had worked for eight years. The reason given was “growing corn in a restricted area”.

For eight years he had worked for the equivalent of $75 dollars a month in substandard  housing with his family of seven. There was not enough money to send the children on the bus to school. But at least he knew that at the end of his tenure he would get a nice benefit package which, after eight years amounted to about$3000. Then he was fired for growing corn in a “restricted” area. He protested that no one had told him of this restriction and that other workers were growing corn in the same area. He was given no thirty day warning, no fair hearing and no chance to present his side, as required by law.

This man tried to protest this unfair treatment to PAMA management and was subjected to cancelled appointments and misinformation. Even the Labor Office in Mazabuka, which is charged with helping poor and often illiterate workers receive fair treatment, upheld the PAMA Meat’s illegal firing procedure. He was never informed about his right to a trial at the Industrial Relations Court in Lusaka, or that PAMA had not followed proper procedure. In fact, he was encouraged to take his case to the local court in Mazabuka, which has no jurisdiction in labor matters. Even so, they too judged against him.

Their first house after his firing was an unfinished house with no roof. For two years the family has been surviving as best they can.

In March of 2011 the AACDP learned about the Industrial Relations Court and  tried to convince them that deceit and misinformation had been the reason this man had not brought the case to them when it occurred. But again, the court judged against him, saying he should “move on with his life ” because he will never get his terminal benefits or compensation for unfair dismissal. (Why not?) The judge further chastised him for spending his money on the case and “annoying” the court.??!!

He then went to the Legal Aid Board who advised that after all this time, evidence was lacking. Why PAMA’s provable illegal firing was not the important issue here was not explained. He was told that, should he appeal, all the legal costs of both sides would fall to him.

Is it right that a big corporation like PAMA should improperly dismiss a man after eight years, deny him what was owed, and face no penalty? Are the courts so uninterested in the poor? Why is seeking justice annoying?

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