By Leonard Ncube
Former workers at the now defunct, United Touring Company (UTC) are bitter after allegedly being told they will not get their terminal benefits because the firm has no assets.The defunct tour operating company and travel agent, whose activities were mostly in Victoria Falls, had offices in the resort town, Bulawayo and Harare,
Former Ministers Saviour Kasukuwere and Nicholas Goche were the major shareholders when the company folded in 2011. The company was placed under liquidation the following year and it was agreed that all workers were going to be dismissed and paid their terminal benefits.
In 2014, UTC assets were supposed to go under the hammer after the former workers were granted an order by the High Court to attach property to recover $186 000 in terminal benefits when the company folded.
The auction was, however, suspended when the company opted to pay the ex-workers their dues after selling its properties that include houses, fuel service stations, vehicles and offices through the liquidator, Tudor House Consultants.
The ex-workers’ committee chairman, Mr Davison Marewangepo said they were engaging lawyers to revive the fight after the former management and the liquidator allegedly transferred UTC assets to its parent company, UTD Properties Zimbabwe Ltd to evade paying them their dues. “We haven’t given up the fight. The only painful challenge is that the liquidator told us we were not employed by UTD but UTC, hence we are not entitled to any benefits.
“As far as we are concerned, we joined UTC and not UTD hence we can’t be told of UTD.
“We want to engage lawyers to challenge this in court because we have been told we had no link with UTD which is supposed to be the holding company,” he said.
Mr Marewangepo said the ex-workers did not understand why they were excluded from the process of transferring properties when this was done when they were already part of the company.
“If UTC has no assets which supposedly belong to UTD, why is it that the bank accounts and title deeds are still in UTC name?”
“This means UTD is an illegal company because no company can run without a bank account and title deeds for its assets,” said Mr Marewangepo.
He said the former employer and the liquidator kept the issue of transfer of properties a secret until last year.
“We only got to know about UTD when the liquidator came in. We want a list of properties and when each of the assets was transferred. We have checked at the Deeds Office where it shows that the assets are in UTC’s name hence they are only deceiving us.
All workers were each paid $750 as part payment of terminal benefits following the sell of an office in Harare in 2012 while a few others, were given houses and cars equivalent to what they were owed.
Mr Marewangepo said since some of the ex-workers were paid all their terminal benefits, the company had an obligation to ensure the remaining workers are paid their outstanding terminal benefits.
Contacted for comment, the liquidator, Dr Cecil Madondo only said, “We have all the information and documents,” before requesting questions in writing.
He had not responded by the time of going to press. The Chronicle