Scores of employees of Score Supermarkets around the country are likely to lose their terminal benefits in the next two weeks when ownership of the remaining eleven stores changes to Pick n’ Pay. Three have already gone that route.
┬áThe Botswana Commercial and General Workers Union (BCGWU), representing Score employees, met with management officials on Wednesday last week before mediator, T. Ofentse, appearing on behalf of the Commissioner of Labour.
┬áChief among the contested issues is that “Score management decided to ambush some of our members and made them sign agreements to the effect that upon their contracts with Score ending on the 31 September 2009, their benefits will be relayed to their contract with the new employer,” intimated one of the affected Score employees who declined to be named.
That is despite the fact that management knew that there was a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) which provides that any negotiations concerning such matters have to be dealt with through the union.
┬áIn addition, Score employees query that although they were told that the new employer will be Pick n’ Pay, they see companies with different names taking over the different outlets formerly owned by Score.
┬áFor example, South Ring Score has been taken by King Shoppers whereas Food Club has assumed ownership of the Francistown Score and the Lobatse Score is now run by Save ‘n Shop.
┬á“We strongly feel cheated that Score management does not see the need to explain all these things to us despite the fact that some of us served the company for a decade or more,” said another employee.
┬áThe Score employees have been issued with letters which show that their employment will end on 31 September 2009, but that their new contract takes effect approximately a month earlier than the termination date.
┬áIn all the letters, no reference is made to date of employment, whilst reason for termination of employment is written as “transfer” as if the employees are shuttling between departments of the same company.┬á
Secretary general of BCGW, Joe Paakane, declined to give details of the dispute, only acknowledging that there is a matter being dealt with by the union and the Score managers.
┬á“However, I am not at liberty to delve into detail as we have not reached deadlock yet, and our CBA provides that we handle such matters delicately,” concluded Paakane.
┬áNotwithstanding Paakane’s caution, information availed to the Sunday Standard indicates that Score has been instructed to put everything in black and white so that there is clarity as to the issues up for discussion as well as stating exactly what they intend to do with their employees.
┬áIt has been agreed that the parties meet again on 18 September 2009 to explore the alternative remedial options.