Lobatse automotive components manufacturer, Pasdec Automotive Technologies employees have filed a notice to withdraw their case before the Industrial Court without the knowledge of the union representing them.
The fired employees who are represented by the union, Cashiers and Shop Assistants and Allied Workers Union (CASAWU) are said to have withdrawn an application the union filed on their behalf seeking a recession to a judgement given against them.
Their union had wanted the court to rescind an order that declared the strike that the employees were alleged to have engaged in by management as illegal and unlawful resulting in many employees being fired.
The fired employees who were initially suspended, were accused of vandalising the company assets and threatening their co-workers during the May strike, which was triggered by a pay dispute.
In a twist of events, CASAWU representative, Dimpho Nyambe was floored that the employees went ahead without the union and filed to withdraw the case. Nyambe told Mmegi that they only found out yesterday when they got to court to argue the case that there was a notice to withdraw.
“It was a surprise to us to find out what the employees did because the Pasdec management, through their attorney, had already responded to our application and the matter was ready to go before court,” he said. Nyambe explained that he has no idea if the employees had someone advising them and even told them to withdraw the matter.
He, however, mentioned that they will still fight for those employees and are looking to see if they could be able to reinstate the case and proceed if the court permits. Meanwhile at the time of the notice to withdraw being filed, Pasdec had already responded to the recession application.
Pasdec, represented by Ramalepa Attorneys contended that when they filed before court in relation to the strike, the employees never filed any opposing papers and only filed a last minute founding affidavit.
“Despite the due service, they did not enter any opposition or file an answering affidavit to our claim, understandably so because they clearly had no defence at all,” read the paper.
The company also reckoned that the applicants had a remedy in due course if it was found that there was never a strike and that their disciplinary hearings were unlawful with appropriated relief, either in the form of compensations, setting aside or reinstatement, which could be granted by the court.
Moreover, the company argued that the employees were not entitled, in accordance with law, to an order interdicting an internal disciplinary process between two private entities. “The employees’ defence that they were never engaged in any illegal strike, is a defence available to them, which they can present before the disciplinary panel and not court,” said Pasdec.
Even if the recession application was to be reinstated by the court as per CASAWU’s wish, Pasdec on one hand prayed the application fail.
Their contention is that the employees could take part in the disciplinary proceedings and if perceived to be unfair or contrary to the principles of natural justice, they could take up the matter in terms of the Employment Act and Trade Disputes Act with the appropriate authorities.