Mmegi Online :: Union wins urgency to interdict against UNITRANS
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Last Updated
Thursday 21 September 2017, 12:09 pm.
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Union wins urgency to interdict against UNITRANS

The Botswana Bulk-Vehicle Operators, Commercial and General Workers Union (BOBOGEWU) has succeeded in their urgent application for hearing of their case seeking an interdict against UNITRANS Botswana from intimidating, harassing and coercing its members from leaving the union.
By Goitsemodimo Kaelo Fri 08 Sep 2017, 17:08 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Union wins urgency to interdict against UNITRANS








BOBOGEWU is a newly registered trade union established by employees of UNITRANS Botswana, a road freight, logistics and distribution company. In July, the union applied for recognition at the workplace but have not been responded to by the respondent following the elapse of 30 days, forcing them to seek redress at the Commissioner of Labour.

However, the union was forced to apply to the Industrial Court seeking an order against the respondent from engaging in intimidation, harassment and coercion of the applicant’s members into withdrawing their membership while waiting for the Commissioner General to deal with the dispute.

The applicant also wanted the court to direct the respondent to issue a notice or internal memo to all its employees stating that its employees have a right to join the applicant and do so if they so wish.

Yesterday Justice Marumo of the Industrial Court granted urgency and set merits argument for September 15, 2017.

When making submissions in court, the union’s representative Tiroyaone Ezekiel said if the respondent is not interdicted, her clients stand to suffer prejudice and would not get any favourable relief they seek in future.

She stated that the applicant had submitted an application for recognition on July 27, 2017 as a negotiating body at the workplace. She explained that in terms of Section 35 (3) of the Trade Dispute Act, the employer shall respond within 30 days of receipt of the application, notifying the union if recognition has been granted or refused.

“But I wish to state that the respondent has to date failed to respond to the applicant’s request and instead intimidates and coerce members of the applicant to withdraw their membership,” she said.

She argued that the respondent is playing delay tactics in an effort to

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attack the numbers of the applicant so that by the time they get recourse at the Commissioner of Labour, they would not have the numbers required to meet the threshold.

“I wish to state that we fear that a continued conduct of the respondent would lead to more withdrawals which would lead to failure to reach one third threshold and thereby disqualify the applicant for recognition as a trade union.

The applicant could not be afforded substantial redress at mediation by the commissioner of labour in due course as the applicant would not meet the statutory requirement of representing one third of the employees if the matter is heard on normal basis course.”

Ezekiel pointed out that many of the applicant’s members who have been intimidated do not want their names disclosed, as they fear victimisation by the employer.

However, attorney for the respondents Karen Phiri said the applicants failed to demonstrate fact to which the case warranted urgency. She argued that the application and allegations of harassment and coercion of employees are hearsay hence it should not be considered.

 She said the information came from unidentified sources, which the court could not ascertain if they are employees of the respondents or were harassed by employees of the respondents.

She also argued that the applicant has not indicated if at the time of applying for membership or presently meets the threshold.

She said the applicant would get redress when the Commissioner of Labour deals with the dispute. Phiri pleaded with the court to dismiss the matter, as it had no merits of urgency.

When making a ruling, Marumo said circumstances render the matter urgent and as such, the court will hear it on that basis.The case returns on September 15, 2017.

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