UTC re­trenchees take pack­ages fight to court

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Leonard Ncube

EX-WORK­ERS at the now de­funct United Tour­ing Com­pany (UTC) have dragged their for­mer em­ployer to the High Court for al­legedly reneg­ing on pay­ing them re­trench­ment pack­ages.

The de­funct tour op­er­at­ing com­pany and travel agent, whose ac­tiv­i­ties were mostly in Vic­to­ria Falls, with of­fices in the re­sort town, Bu­l­awayo and Harare, folded in 2011 and was liq­ui­dated the fol­low­ing year.

It owes ex-work­ers more than $180 000 in re­trench­ment pack­ages.

In 2014, UTC as­sets were sup­posed to go un­der the ham­mer after 23 for­mer work­ers were granted an or­der by the High Court to at­tach prop­erty to re­cover $186 000 in ter­mi­nal ben­e­fits when the com­pany folded.

How­ever, the auc­tion was sus­pended when the com­pany opted to pay the for­mer work­ers their dues.

The com­pany had promised to pay up the pack­ages out of sale of its prop­er­ties that in­clude houses, fuel ser­vice sta­tions, ve­hi­cles and of­fices through the liq­uida­tor, Tu­dor House Con­sul­tants.

Ac­cord­ing to court pa­pers filed by the ex-work­ers’ com­mit­tee chair­man Mr Dav­i­son Mare­wangepo, filed with the Mas­ter of High Court in Harare, their em­ployer al­legedly trans­ferred as­sets to its par­ent com­pany UTG Prop­er­ties Zim­babwe (Pvt) Ltd to evade pay­ing them their dues.

“We re­fer to the above named com­pany which is un­der liq­ui­da­tion and the mat­ter is be­ing han­dled by Tu­dor House Con­sul­tants.

“We have writ­ten to ap­peal to your high of­fice for as­sis­tance. As work­ers we feel we are un­fairly treated and in­hu­manly side­lined from the liq­ui­da­tion pro­ceeds of the above men­tioned com­pany,” he said.

UTC Zim­babwe (Pvt) Ltd went into com­pul­sory re­trench­ment after a mu­tual agree­ment was reached be­tween share­hold­ers and work­ers.

The work­ers allege that share­hold­ers went tru­ant in hon­our­ing their com­mit­ment, hence the court ap­pli­ca­tion.

“From 2011 to date, the in­ten­tion of the share­hold­ers not to pay us is now clear. Some work­ers ded­i­cated all their lives to the or­gan­i­sa­tion and now they want to re­nege on pay­ing us.

“Our con­cern is that di­rec­tors and share­hold­ers cre­ated a com­pany UTG Prop­er­ties Zim­babwe (Pvt) Ltd and trans­ferred all UTC as­sets into that com­pany’s name. Sur­pris­ingly, all th­ese are reg­is­tered at the Deeds Of­fice in the name of UTC (Pvt) Ltd,” Mr Mare­wangepo said.

He claimed the em­ployer de­lib­er­ately didn’t trans­fer deeds to avoid pay­ing tax or from pay­ing work­ers.

When the com­pany liq­ui­dated, each worker was paid $ 750 as part of re­trench­ment pack­ages in 2012.

Some were given houses whose value was equiv­a­lent to their re­trench­ment pack­ages while oth­ers were paid after money was raised from the sale of a three-storey com­mer­cial prop­erty in Harare.

The com­pany in­di­cated it will pay the oth­ers upon sale of as­sets.

“All prop­er­ties they call UTG as­sets are reg­is­tered un­der UTC and for share­hold­ers to say em­ploy­ees should not be paid from th­ese as­sets is not fair.

“We are ask­ing your high of­fice to con­sider em­ploy­ees as well for pay­ments from pro­ceeds that will be re­alised from the sale of as­sets that are reg­is­tered un­der UTC and have been per­son­ally ac­cepted by your of­fice.” —@ ncubeleon.

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