Botswana court orders dismissal of 150 striking industrial workers

By Web Master


More than 150 workers suspended for striking at Lobatse-based PASDEC Automotive Technologies face dismissal after the Industrial Relations Court in Botswana declared their industrial action illegal on Tuesday.


BusinessWeek has learnt that already several employees have received letters ordering them to attend disciplinary hearings today (June 1), with the company saying it incurred “huge losses” during the weeks they were on strike last month.


May’s strike was the fourth time workers at the automotive component’s manufacturer had downed tools since commissioning of the plant in 2015, with reports that the company’s Malaysian principals are growing frustrated at the workforce’s militancy.


In the most recent strike, workers had to be marched off the premises by riot police, after threats to damage property.


Disputes at the plant have centred around salaries, working conditions and others. On Tuesday, Justice Isaac Bahuma of the Industrial Court made final, an interim order of May 28 in favour of PASDEC which it declared the strike unlawful and illegal. The order was in response to an urgent application filed by the company in early May at the height of the strike.


Bahuma’s order also interdicts employees from vandalising the company’s assets and from intimidating others not on strike.


“(This order) interdicts and restrains the employees on strike from accessing the company premises and also seeks assistance from the police,” further reads Bahuma’s order.


Letters ordering some suspended workers to disciplinary hearings reveal that PASDEC management has reached a tipping point in the perennial battles with workers.


“The management of the company did try to persuade you to refrain from your unlawful conduct and pleaded with you to go back to work but you refused to do so.


“It is also important to note that at the time of your unlawful action there was a VW audit and these kinds of audits are very crucial to the business. “The audit had to be called off due to the ongoing illegal strike and as a result of your actions, the company had to incur huge losses. The company’s reputation was also jeopardised,” reads part of the letter.


Employees through the Cashiers, Shop Assistants & Allied Workers Union (CASAWU) denied engaging in a strike, and said they were being punished for engaging in a meeting to address their grievances.


Workers said management was aware of the meeting in question.  The workers said management had “engineered” a strike as it had forgotten that it had invited the workers’ committee to the meeting last month, which was later construed as a strike.


“It came as a shock. At what point did the employees begin striking because from the time of the meeting up until the police were called on us, there was nothing that could be used to justify that indeed the employees embarked on a strike,” reads one of documents submitted in the Industrial Court matter by workers./MmegiOnline