Saturday, November 26, 2022

BRAWU denied urgent application

Former employees of the Botswana Railways (BR)’s subsidiary company, GABCON, are on the verge of being left for the streets after the Industrial Court ruled against an urgent application they sought through their representative to prevent the imminent termination of their employment contracts , Botswana Railways Amalgamated Workers Union (BRAWU).

As a result, fear has gripped BRAWU members and leadership alike that justice might never be seen to have been done in relation to the future of the affected employees.

Judge of the Industrial Court, Justice A.R Mathiba, ruled that since the permanent transfer of some of the employees of the BR previously attached to GABCON has been done, “there is no reason why this matter should now be heard on an urgent basis.”

This followed what the Union viewed as an arbitrary decision by the Management of BR where they unilaterally sold GABCON and wanted to treat its members who were transferred there as if they were newly hired by GABCON.

One sure consequence of that treatment was loss of benefits accrued over years of service at BR, and the accompanying insecurity from being treated as newly hired.

In an attempt to arrest the tide of the transformation process, BRAWU officials submitted that they tried all means, and that they mainly invested a lot of what they now termed “misplaced confidence” in negotiating with the employer.

But as typical, BR employed all manner of chicanery and dilly dallying, while they secretly set out to betray the employees by turning against all the promises made to the union.
Gaebepe Molaodi, Chairperson of BRAWU, told the Sunday Standard, the trigger that sparked the conflict, was when in December 2009, GABCON duly went ahead with recruitment, and to that end circulated advertisements through emails to senior staff at GABCON.

“When we learnt of these adverts from our members, we as the union approached our current attorney of record in an attempt to stop the process as we believed that the exercise effectively rendered the concerned employees redundant,” said Molaodi.

Gaebepe’s contention in an affidavit filed with the court was that most of the affected people have in fact worked for BR for more than ten up to sixteen years, and got attached to GABCON at its inception in 1995, when it was just another department of BR.

As has become custom with many employers, instead of appropriately engaging with the union as employees’ representatives, it appears, according to Gaebepe, that the employer negotiated in bad faith, by initially pretending they understood the concerns of the union, only to somersault later.
The affected employees with the exception of the Managing Director of GABCON were 18 in number. Of the 18 employees, 14 were hired by GABCON after the Union advised them to try their luck by responding to the circulated adverts.

As for the four remaining employees they were redeployed to other departments of BR.
This situation notwithstanding, Mathiba ordered thus, “The application that the matter be heard on urgency is dismissed, and each party shall bear their own costs.”

The judgment was delivered on 28th July 2010 at the Industrial Court, and has not been signed by representatives of employers and workers organization.

Phillip Nyamambi , of Mosweu and Company Attorneys argued before Justice Mathiba that one of his clients (BRAWU)’s main concerns were that the affected members by virtue of being employees of a now separate entity, stand to be prejudiced as they would no longer be members of BRAWU.
So, I must admit my client (BRAWU) are justifiably disappointed and I share their emotion, said Nyamambi.

Meanwhile, Gaebepe told the Sunday Standard, the Executive Committee will meet next week to consider the next course of action.

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