Mmegi Online :: BPC, Manual Workers Union tussle in court
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Last Updated
Wednesday 18 October 2017, 13:58 pm.
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BPC, Manual Workers Union tussle in court

FRANCISTOWN: The National Amalgamated Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU) fought with Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) in court yesterday over their employees being duly recognised as members of the former.
By Lebogang Mosikare Fri 16 Jun 2017, 18:08 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: BPC, Manual Workers Union tussle in court








NALCGPWU through their attorneys, Nelson Ramaotwana and Onalethata Kambai, made an application for the matter to be heard on urgency before Justice Christian Diwanga of the Francistown Industrial Court.

NALCGPWU pleaded with the court to rule urgently on the matter saying a different ruling would greatly prejudice the applicants' members because they would not enjoy all the rights that come with joining a union.

Ramaotwana said that on April 27, they wrote a letter to BPC indicating that 726 former members of the Botswana Power Corporation Workers Union (BPCWU), which is cited as the first respondent in the matter, had applied to BPC for their members to be recognised as new members of NALCGPWU instead.

He added that according to the Trade Disputes Act, for members to be recognised as members of any union in any organisation, they should meet the one-third threshold.  Surprisingly Ramaotwana said, while the applicant was still waiting for a response from BPC, it continued to retrench some of its NALCGPWU members. 

He said on May 26, BPC finally replied to their letter, but it refused for the applicants' members to be recognised as union members. The members, Ramaotwana noted, sought legal advice about the refusal for recognition and later instructed them to approach the court on urgency to challenge the refusal.

“Granting members of the applicant the relief they seek will give them the powers to bargain for their various rights using the right channels with BPC. Right now there is a retrenchment process going on at BPC.”  “One of the applicant’s members received a letter on May 26, the very same day the applicant was served with a letter rejecting recognition.

The same letter told the member that his employment will be terminated on May 30,” Ramaotwana said, making Diwanga aware that the retrenchment exercise started on May 26, only four days prior to the member’s employment termination.  Probed further by the Judge, who

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wanted to know how the urgent application will help the applicant’s members since the retrenchment process has already happened, Ramaotwana said: “BPC has not disputed that the retrenchment process is still ongoing.

Our problem is that it would be prejudicial to the applicant’s members because they may lose benefits that come with being members of a union…” The other exceptional point that rendered the matter urgent, Ramaotwana said, is that BPC has not made an undertaking that it would stop further retrenchments. “This shows that the applicant’s members will be greatly prejudiced since the retrenchment exercise is still ongoing…Our members have reached the legally required threshold to form a union within BPC.

If they are refused recognition, they cannot enjoy the rights of being members of the union,” Ramaotwana said. He said because the members will not be recognised as such, they are susceptible to getting unfavourable packages from BPC after retrenchment. 

“There is a dispute over retrenchment packages before Justice Motswagole hence it is our fear that if the matter is dealt with in the normal course, the members will get unfavourable packages. We don’t want a situation whereby when Motswagole hears the matter in September, he may rule that they missed the chance to address the issue at the Industrial Court, which is the appropriate court to hear such matters,” Ramaotwana said.

When responding to NALCGPWU, attorney Moemedi Tafa for the respondents said there was nothing exceptional to render the matter urgent.  He said it is the prerogative of the employer to retrench when there are compelling reasons to do so and as such, there is nothing exceptional about the retrenchment exercise, taking place at BPC.

Tafa said the applicant has since February known that a retrenchment exercise notwithstanding the case before Motswagole, was going to happen. He stated that the current application was not dealing with the retrenchment process, but with employee packages.

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