THE Industrial Relations Court (IRC) has dismissed Father Richard Luonde’s lawsuit against the Anglican Church over the termination of his employment.
IRC chairperson Jones Chinyama sitting in Ndola recently with judges Joseph Bwalya and William Siame, dismissed the lawsuit on grounds that Fr Luonde’s dismissal was not done in bad faith in view of the poor relationship that existed between him and the congregants at the time.
Mr Justice Chinyama also said the church’s decision to terminate Fr Luonde’s contract was lawful as it was done under the conditions of service applicable to the contract.
Fr Luonde had sued the Anglican Church and Fr Albert Chama as first and second respondents, respectively, over the termination of his employment.
In his affidavit, Fr Luonde urged the court to order his reinstatement as pastor with full benefits and settle damages for what he termed as mental torture and anguish he suffered as a result of termination of his contract.
Fr Luonde also urged the court to award him costs or other relief that it would deem fit and expedient.
“The court bears in mind that the complainant served as a clergyman in the church and in our understanding, there was a definite breakdown of the relationship between him and the flock. We see nothing wrong with the termination of the contract, though curious in the sense that it involves a clergy and it is not an everyday occurrence.
“We conclude, therefore, that the complainant cannot succeed in his lawsuit and we dismiss it. We will, however, order either party to bear their own costs,” Mr Justice Chinyama said.
In their submissions, the respondents argued that the decision to terminate Fr Luonde’s contract was arrived at in consultation with the pastoral committee in pursuant to clause 4 of the Anglican Diocese after considering the souring relationship between Fr Luonde and the flock.
Fr Chama told the court that the congregants at St Peter’s Parish in Kitwe had on two occasions expressed dissatisfaction with Fr Luonde by locking the church, which prompted the church to transfer Fr Luonde to St Pauls’ Parish in Mwinilunga but he objected to the transfer.