Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB) was this week interdicted from retrenching some of its senior managers. The company last year notified seven senior managers of its intention to axe them.
The result is that late last year, three of the seven senior managers approached the Industrial Court seeking recourse. They argued that their impending dismissal was unfair as the company had not advanced any reasons for retrenching them.
The employees asked Justice Paper Molomo to grant them an interim interdict against the DTC’s decision.
Through their lawyers, Joseph Akoonyatse of Ramalepa Attorneys, the employees accused DTC of secrecy in handling the looming retrenchment.
The lawyer said DTC refused to avail them results of the assessment it had conducted prior to its announcement that it intends to downsize staff.
“The employees demand to be told why they should lose their jobs. There is absolutely no reason why the employer is refusing to share the results of the assessment report with the employees. What the employer is doing unfair,” said Akoonyatse.
He reiterated that the “employees are saying that since we have undergone assessment; show us the results of the assessment. What the employer is doing is not different from the one who tells employees that tomorrow you should not come to work.”
On suggestion by DTC that the employees should have gone for mediation rather than approaching the court on urgency, Akoonyatse said “going for mediation would not allow for the relief we seek. What the employer is saying is that I do not have a duty to avail the results of the assessment.”
According to Akoonyatse, the selection criteria agreed by the parties was fair but his clients’ bone of contention was that the employer applied it in an unfair manner as the company refused to avail the results of the assessment.
“The employer is saying I have already made a decision that you have to go-when, it does not matter,” he said. The lawyer added that ILO statutes state that no worker shall be dismissed unless there is a valid reason.
“The employers are saying to the employer; show us the reason why we have to go. The matter cries out for the urgent intervention of this court,” he said.
Advancing reasons why the case should be treated as a urgent, Akoonyatse added that they have discovered that the concerned employees’ positions have already been advertised in an advert that appeared in the Sunday Standard newspaper.
DTCB lawyer Sifelani Thapelo of Thapelo Attorneys argued that the application by the employees should fail on the basis of the founding affidavit in which they argued that DTCB has abandoned the selection criteria and not that it was applied unfairly.
But Justice Molomo interjected and brought Thapelo’s attention to the argument raised by the employees that reasons as to why they are facing dismissal had not been advanced. Justice Molomo granted an interim interdict against DTCB’s decision to dismiss the employees.