Seven former employees of Lumwana Mining Company Limited have dragged the mining company to the Lusaka High Court, claiming payment of over US $4.5 million total salaries and benefits after their contracts were allegedly unlawfully terminated.
The plaintiffs; Mark Tink; Teresa Mentz; Frank Dudley; Jon Morgan; Werner Le Roux; Herman Prinsloo and Kevin Hanley are further seeking a declaration that the termination of their employment by the mining company was unlawful and unfair.
In a statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court Principal Registry, the plaintiffs stated that on various dates, but between July 17, 2018, and July 13, this year, they were engaged on 24 month fixed-term contract as expatriate employees with Lumwana Mining Company.
“The first plaintiff was engaged on a 24 month fixed-term contract effective July 17, 2018, to July 17, 2020. The said contract was terminated on July 12, 2019, by Lumwana. The second plaintiff was engaged on a 24 month fixed-term contract effective January 1, 2019, to December 31, 2020, but the said contract was terminated on July 12, this year. The third plaintiff was engaged on a 24 month fixed-term contract effective July 23, 2018, to July 23, 2020. The said contract was terminated on July 12, this year,” read the stament of claim.
“The fourth plaintiff was engaged with effect from May 1, this year, to March 29, 2029, but the contract was terminated on June 24, 2019, this year. The fifth plaintiff was engaged with effect from March 29, this year, to March 29, 2021, but the contract was terminated on June 24, this year. The sixth plaintiff was engaged on a 24 month fixed-term contract effective May 16, 2019, to May 16, 2021. The said contract terminated on July 12, this year. The seventh plaintiff was engaged with effect from June 13, this year, to June 13, 2021, but the said contract was terminated on July 13, 2019.”
The plaintiffs further stated that Lumwana terminated their contract invoking clause 19.1.1 of the expatriate general terms and conditions, which purport to allow for termination without cause.
They added that they would show at trial that under current Zambian law, termination at the instance of an employer could no longer be without cause or reasons.
“The plaintiffs will aver at trial that under current Zambian law, termination without cause at the instance of an employer amount to unlawful/unfair dismissal. The plaintiffs will further show at trial that the quantum of damages for unlawful/unfair dismissal is based on the salaries the unlawfully terminated employee would have received for unexpired period of the fixed term contract,” read the statement of claim further.
The plaintiffs further stated that after the said termination of their employment, the mining company sent them letters requesting them to leave their homes within unreasonable time of as little as two days without justification or cause.
“The plaintiffs will further show at trial that attempts were made by themselves to persuade Lumwana to allow them reasonable time in which to move their belongings and families and also to settle matters with their domestic employees to which it declined and literally forced them out of the site and also demanded that they leave the country without consideration of their ancestors and the fact that some of the plaintiffs have kids who are enrolled in Zambian schools,” read the statement of claim.
“The plaintiffs will show that that the defendant’s (Lumwana) conduct mentioned above amounts to harassment of the plaintiffs, as the defendant ought to have known that the harsh manner in which it treated the plaintiffs caused anxiety and distress to themselves and their families.”
The plaintiffs are now claiming for a declaration that the termination of their employment by Lumwana was unlawful and a nullity at law.
They are further seeking an order for an award of US $4,584,490.88 being total salaries and benefits for the unexpired period of their contracts.
The plaintiffs are also claiming damages for unlawful termination of employment, damages for harassment, inconvenience and unfair treatment, interest and costs.