On Friday, lawyers representing Botswana Wholesale Furnishers and Retail Workers Union moved to secure an interdict against Supreme Furnishers which allegedly wants to retrench some of its employees unfairly.
This was confirmed by the Union’s organising secretary, Kewagamang Quattah. “Yes, i can confirm our lawyers are seeking to file an urgent application against Supreme Furnishers because we feel that they want to retrench our members unfairly,” he said.
He said the decision came about after negotiations with Supreme Furnishers management reached a deadlock on how to procedurally retrench workers. The Union senses that the move by Supreme Furnishers is aimed at avoiding paying employees retrenchment packages.
According to the Ministry of Labour mediator: “there was no need for interviews as in my view the proposed new job profiles and current job profiles show that while they were different, it was mainly due to consolidation of roles or duties as per structure. There should be no reason why an experienced employee should not be able to perform the duties as per new structure”.
The mediator also said that after the interview exercise, employees who “qualified” will be provided with further training to ensure that they effectively carry out new roles. This he says raises question as to how one will qualify for a position when they needed training. He also maintained that he finds Supreme furnishers assertion that salaries of staff will not be negatively affected as baseless, given the fact that an employee might find themselves passing the interview and, settling for a junior position with lower salary.
In his view, this is the reason why the interview exercise will amount to unfair labour practice because it is beyond ethical for employees to be informed that they will be interviewed for a new position, and failure to do so would result in retrenchment.