Lobatse-based automotive components manufacturer, Pasdec Automotive Technologies, has fired over 60 employees following an Industrial Court decision declaring a recent strike there unlawful.
The company, which suspended over 150 employees early May for engaging in the strike, had summoned the affected workers for disciplinary hearings after it won the court decision recently. The May strike was the fourth at Pasdec since its establishment in 2015, with riot police being called to remove workers from the plant. The workers’ militancy and frequent strikes had reportedly irked Pasdec’s Malaysian principal investors. The Botswana Development Corporation also holds equity in the Lobatse company, having invested P52 million.
BusinessWeek is informed that while some of the affected workers were dismissed after disciplinary hearings, others were fired in absentia after having missed the hearings. The company is understood to have pinned a notice for the hearings at a hotel in the border town, which some suspended employees did not see and thus failed to attend the disciplinary hearings.
The fired employees were accused of vandalising the company assets and threatened their co-workers during the May strike, which was triggered by a pay dispute. Cashiers and Shop Assistants and Allied Workers Union (CASAWU) representative, Dimpho Nyambe said the dismissal of employees came as the labour organisation is awaiting the outcome of an application for a rescission order it had made. A rescission order is made to reverse the outcome of a default judgement.
“Immediately after the court order we knew that this was coming, as the company issued letters for disciplinary hearings. We therefore moved swiftly and made a rescission application for which we are yet to receive a response,” he said.
Nyambe said at the moment CASAWU is helpless in the dismissals as it can only wait for the Industrial Court to rule on the rescission application, which was filed on an urgent basis.
“If we fail at the Industrial Court, we will consider taking the matter to the High Court to seek redress,” he said.
“In a way we feel the court failed the employees since it agreed with us that there was no strike but still went on to issue that order, which gave the company leverage against the employees.”
Attempts to obtain comment from Pasdec’s local as well as South African representatives were fruitless by Press time.