The Secretary General of the Botswana Mine Workers Union, Jack Tlhagale, has accused the Industrial Court of bias against the union.
Tlhagale’s utterances come after the industrial court recently dismissed an urgent application by the mine workers union against a number of contractors who were involved in the now defunct Activox refinery project.
Last month, the mine workers union instituted an urgent application against the major contractors in the Activox project, among them Hatch Africa, G-LTA and Kalcon. Another respondent in the urgent application was the Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM).
The BMWU argued during the urgent application hearing that the dismissal of the close to 700 employees was unprocedural.
BMWU said the contractors had not followed the proper channels when demobilizing the employees, and called for the said contractors to award the former employees P5000 each as relocation allowance.
When the union first filed the urgent application with the industrial court in Francistown, they were advised by Justice John Legwaila that they were at risk of losing the application because their papers were not in order. Legwaila further advised the BMWU to file the application with the industrial court in Gaborone.
At the time, attorney Mboni Chilisa, representing the respondents, argued that BMWU’s demand for relocation payment was unfounded as the respondents had promised to transport the employees to their places of recruitment.
Recently, industrial court judge, Tapiwa Marumo, dismissed the case saying that BMWU had made no efforts to describe the other parties and clearly explain the relationship between the union and the 677 applicants.
“There is no clear indication of who the applicants are and who they are represented by. This is a fundamental flaw in the evidence of the applicants because without this information, the court and the respondents do not know whom they are dealing with,” she said.
She, however, allowed the BMWU to file a new application with properly crafted papers.
However, the BMWU Secretary General was not amused by the decision of the industrial court.
Speaking to The Sunday Standard, Tlhagale vowed that the struggle would continue and further expressed shock at the industrial court’s decision to throw out the case.
He argued that the court should have put the urgency of the matter before technicalities.
“We are convinced that the industrial court is deliberately sabotaging the efforts of the BMWU. It is not the first time that this has happened as it also happened in our case involving the 461 employees who were unfairly dismissed by Debswana,” he said.
“There are also financial implications to consider,” he said.┬á