PPC Aggregates, BMWU dispute goes to trial

Ready for battle: BMWU executives after a previous engagement at the CCA PIC: BMWU FACEBOOK
Ready for battle: BMWU executives after a previous engagement at the CCA PIC: BMWU FACEBOOK

FRANCISTOWN: The longstanding dispute between PPC Aggregates and Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) over the payment toward retrenchment packages to some of the company workers will now go to trial.

The Francistown High Court recently ruled in favour of 45 PPC Aggregates Botswana workers, whose retrenchment packages were ‘wrongfully’ calculated by their then employer Quarries of Botswana. The employees maintained that when calculating packages Quarries of Botswana disregarded the existence of a binding ‘Retrenchment and Redeployment Agreement’ it entered and concluded with their representative, BMWU, on November 11, 2004. The matter had been before the courts since 2012 and had gone through different stages of litigation.

PPC later acquired Quarries of Botswana but maintained that it was not liable for paying the retrenchment packages. However, last week, the High Court noted that although PPC was not party to the retrenchment agreement, by purchasing Quarries of Botswana, the firm stepped into the shoes of the latter.

Following the court ruling, PPC and BMWU will now go for trial, where a determination will be made concerning all issues raised by the union regarding the retrenchment packages of the 45 former employees.

PPC was due to serve the BMWU with its plea on September 22, 2021, while the BMWU has up to October 12 to reply. Both parties are then scheduled appear for an initial case management conference on October 16, 2021.

“This (the recent victory) is an important victory for workers. It shows the court’s attitude towards knavish employers who harbour intentions of using accounting concepts including restructuring as justification for breaching binding agreements concluded with the union. “The ruling was fair and it gives workers a fighting chance in asserting their rights against employers in a system that often favours capital, ” BMWU secretary-general, Maenge Maenge said in reaction to the court ruling.

This is the second massive victory for BMWU against PPC in two months. In July this year, the Competition and Consumer Authority (CCA) ruled that there should be no job losses when PPC Aggregate Quarries Botswana (Pty) Ltd is fully purchased by Danoher Botswana (Pty) Ltd. The union had written a letter to the authority expressing concern that the sale could result in massive job losses.

The CCA also made a ruling that pending issues which may impede employment as well as the remuneration of employees should be dealt with before the sale between PPC and Danoher is fully implemented. In the letter to the CCA, the BWMU had also said that the transaction should only be authorised on the condition that all pending labour related matters between PPC and employees are fully resolved.

Editor's Comment
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The government has without a doubt come up with good initiatives such as partnering with private medical practitioners in the vaccine roll-out. This was indeed a welcome development that reduced congestions at government vaccination centres.Well, unfortunately, the celebrations were short-lived. People flocked to the vaccination centres in large numbers and most of the private clinics are currently left with no vaccines and unending telephone...

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