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Dismissed Choppies employees lose court case

SHARE   |   Thursday, 15 August 2019   |   By Tebogo Mmolawa
Ramotwana Ramotwana

Dismissed 60 former Choppies employees who were fired by the retail giant after engaging in an unlawful strike have suffered a huge blow after they lost their case in which they were challenging their sucking at the Francistown industrial court.

The former employees had embarked on a strike complaining about appalling conditions of work, long working hours without being paid over time and low wages among others. Choppies Management did not heed the workers’ plea, but instead dismissed workers after giving them an ultimatum to return to work within 24 hours. The retail giant management was adamant that the industrial strike was unlawful.

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In his ruling, Justice Christian Diwanga said the Botswana Commercial and General Workers Union do not have recognition agreement with the employer being Choppies. “It is common cause that the union has not been recognized by the respondent in terms of section 48 of the Trade Unions and Employer’s Organization’s Act. The union has not filed any authority by its members authorizing it to institute these proceedings on their behalf,” Diwanga divulged.

The respondent (Choppies) in its opposition of the application, has raised a point in limine that the applicant has no locus standi to bring the matter before court, the Judge said.  Diwanga pointed out that respondent’s attorney Njiramanda Mbewe submitted that a party to any proceedings must establish locus standi in judicio stating that locus standi is the right to sue or to be sued in a particular matter. “Attorney Mbewe submitted that the applicant has not even filed any authority by the 60 employees it purports to act on behalf of as required by rule 19 of the rules of the court. Counsel Mbewe further submitted that in seeking to answer the issue whether the applicant has locus standi, regard must be had to section 48 of The Trade Unions and Employer’s Organizations Act which deals Organisational rights of recognized trade unions,” Diwanga held.

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On the other hand, Diwanga stated that applicant’s attorney, Nelson Ramaotwana referred the court to section 19 of the Trade Unions and Employers Organizations   Act which provides that a registered trade union may sue or be sued in its registered name. The Judge underscored that The Trade Unions and employers Organisational Act does not grant a trade union which had not been recognized the rights granted to a recognized union adding that an unrecognized trade union cannot represent and act on behalf of its members in respect of termination of employment.

Ramaotwana told this publication after the judgment was delivered that he will have to consult his client on the way forward adding that they might appeal the judgement or the applicants will have to apply individually to the court to seek coadunation. “I will have to brief the client first to discuss available options and then map the way forward,” the seemingly disappointed Ramaotwana pointed out.    



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