A bitter war between employees of Unitrans and their employer seems far from over. Mmegi is in possession of a number of letters of complaints from union representatives to Unitrans management that were never responded to.
Representative of the truckers, Botswana Transport and Allied Workers Union (BOTRAWU), says since their recognition in April 2014 they have never had harmonised relations with management as a collective bargaining agent.
According to the union’s acting secretary general Albert Simanyana, they acquired recognition through mediation brought about after a dispute with the company. “We had an overwhelming number of the workforce endorsing our union at the time of the recognition application over the incumbent union, which we found smeared with allegations of tending to be a stooge for the company,” he said.
They are also unhappy with the management dismissing 24 members after a strike that took place early last year, without involving the union.
“The Trade Unions and Employers Organisations Act explains that an employer who recognises a trade union shall bargain in good faith with the union on employment policies concerning, inter alia, recruitment, appointment, training, transfer, promotion, suspension, discipline and dismissal of employees,” he said. Simanyana said they believe the dismissals were motivated by the participation of the truckers in a lawful strike.
The employees through BOTRAWU have also filed with the High Court an application seeking a declaration that their employer is in breach of the wage negotiations agreement concluded by the parties on June 25, 2015. They complain that
Simanyana further said; “We have also registered a dispute with District Labour offices on unfair labour practices concerning the staff in the workshops and operation departments, unscrupulous taxing of the remunerations of members and unlawful cutting down of excessive hours including putting members on a one and half day rest period contrary to the Employment Act”.
He however said the company’s management did not pitch up at the labour offices on June 15, 2016 where the matter was to be heard.
The unionist further said they have embarked on a series of requests from the company on placement and localisation plans but all that to no avail. He said this is because the company is doing nothing to make sure that foreigners in management train locals as required by the Government Training and Localisation Unit which requires understudy programmes in the workplace.
Efforts to get a comment from Unitrans human resource manager Moses Sebolai proved futile as his mobile phone rang unanswered. The company’s managing director Mike Steel declined to speak to this publication referring enquiries to Sebolai.