Twenty six workers of the NICOL Mwanza based Tanzania fisheries development company (TFDC) have filed an unprecedented constitutional law suit in the High Court of Tanzania main registry for damages against institutions of the government.
The first respondent in the miscellaneous civil case no. 15 of 2012 is the Attorney General, while others are Capital markets and four pension funds namely Paratastal Pensions Fund (PPF), Public Service Pension Fund (PSPF) Government Employee Provident Fund (GEPF) and Local Authorities Pension Fund (LAPF).
The funds which own a mere 8.68 percent of NICOL shares are accused by the workers of taking it upon themselves to go to court to purposely stop the salaries of the workers, imposing hardship and suffering on them and their families.
In their lawsuit, the workers, who are permanent and pensionable employees of TFDC, a wholly owned NICOL subsidiary claim that they have been denied their rights enshrined in the Constitution.
The workers are each demanding a compensation of 50m/- to each petition and an award of punitive damages of 100m/- and any further relief the court may deem justified in the circumstances from PPF , PSPF, GEPS and LAPF for maliciousness aggravated cruelty and abuse of office.
It has been stated in the lawsuit that in early 2010 the parent company NICOL, suspended operations at the factory to reassess and reposition operations within the global market. During suspension, the lawsuit states that NICOL paid the salaries of the factory workers, as it had every intention to reopen operations.
According to suit in late 2010 the factory was reopened and quickly secured over USD 32m of firm export orders. But some powers, which the workers believe are working towards destroying TFDC ad NICOL did not want the factory to be successful.
In March 2011 CMSA after ordering NICOL not to invest any money in TFDC (which NICOL had to do for the exports of its USD 32m order) proceeded to illegally suspended the NICOL management and Board and issue letters to all banks doing business with the company to freeze all its bank accounts.
As a result no worker could be paid, no operations or services in Mwanza could be supported and the factory had to again suspend operations.
According to the lawsuit in September 2011 the TFDC workers filed for and were granted relief of their pay by the Labour court.
NICOL did not block the Court order for release of funds from the NICOL bank accounts on which CMSA had imposed a freeze. By January 2012 monies due to the workers were moved from the NICOL bank account and deposited with the court.
But as the law suit describes it, CMSA and the pension funds for no reasons other than malice, hate aggravated cruelty and display of authority and abuse of office have blocked the worker’s payments by filing a frivolous lawsuit in the Labour Court and engaging in delaying tactics, preventing the workers from receiving their pay now for 18 months.
Further in March this year, the High Court ruled that the actions of CMSA against NICOL board and management were illegal and ordered the bank accounts to be immediately unfrozen.
But according to the suit, CMSA and the Pension Funds fraudulently obtained a consent order from another court to continue the harassment of NICOL and its workers.
It has been reliably learned that most of the workers have lost their homes and some are now living on streets while others are unable to pay school fees or medical treatment and still facing hardships