UTC retrenchees take packages fight to court
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.