Friday, July 10, 2020

BLACKBEARD BEATS BTO OVER TERMINAL BENEFITS

Following a protracted battle over terminal benefits pay out, the Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO) and its former marketing executive manager Jillian Blackbeard have settled out of court.

The out of court settlement, which was made a court order by Francistown Industrial Court judge, Justice Galesite Baruti, will see Blackbeard smiling to the bank to cash her terminal windfall payout of P177 365-16.

Blackbeard, who was employed by BTO on a three year contract commencing 4th September 2016 and due to expire on 30th August 2019, was forced to terminate her employment early as the working relationship with her employer had deteriorated beyond repair.

Given the prevailing working relationship with her employer, Blackbeard tendered her resignation which the employer accepted.

After accepting the resignation, however, a dispute arose over the computation of Blackbeard’ terminal benefits as the employer wanted to make deductions which in Blackbeard’s view were unlawful.

This set Blackbeard against her former employer until the case reached the Industrial Court as Blackbeard insisted on a correct pay out with deductions that were envisaged by BTO.

In her reply to BTO’s statement of defence, Blackbeard argued that the respondent had introduced a counterclaim that was never canvassed before the District Labour Office nor sought condonation from the court, and that such condonation, cannot be sought so late in the proceedings.

She further argued that BTO’s Credit Card Policy constituted a term of her employment that was less favourable than the minimal provisions of the Employment Act rendering the entire policy, null and void by virtue of the provisions of section 37 of the Employment Act.

In her view the deductions that her former employer sought to make were therefore unlawful deductions, unenforceable before the court, and are also criminal in nature.

After protracted negotiations between Blackbeard’s lawyer Tengo Rubadiri and his counterparts representing BTO from Babuseng and Maswabi Attorneys, an out of court was hammered out and eventually made into a court order by Justice Baruti laying the matter to rest.

Justice Baruti after making the settlement an order of the court thanked the parties to for billing out the agreement which essence saved the court time especially that the court is grappling with a serious backlog of unresolved cases.

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Sunday Standard July 5 – 11

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of July 5 - 11, 2020.