Fired workers drag Jonsson factory to court

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Bereng Mpaki

THE Labour Court will on 27 November 2019 hear a case in which 786 former employees of Jonsson Manufacturing Pty Ltd are challenging their dismissal.

The workers were fired in April 2019 for allegedly engaging in an illegal strike.

In response to their dismissal, the workers have petitioned the Labour Court to compel their former employer to re-instate them and compensate them for lost earnings.

The workers say their dismissal was effected prematurely based on a temporary relief (interim court order) for an earlier case that was filed by the employer to block the strike.

The new case to challenge the dismissal filed by the workers will be heard on 27 November 2019 in the Labour Court. The workers are represented by one Advocate L.A Tuke, while Jonsson Manufacturing is represented by Adv Tlhalefo Ntaote.

In their court papers, the workers have asked the court to nullify the company’s decision to dismiss them. They also want the company to reinstate them to their respective positions without loss of remuneration.

They also want the court to order the company to pay them amounts equivalent to their respective retirement ages as per their contracts “of employment in the event that reinstatement is impracticable”.

The dismissed workers’ troubles started when they raised several employment related grievances to their employer earlier this year.

Among the complaints were that the workers wanted the company to set fixed pay dates as there was no consistency on their paydays.

They also wanted the company to fix Monday to Friday as the normal working days so that they could be paid overtime each time they worked on weekends.

The workers also wanted their employer to facilitate third-party stop orders for payment of their debtors. They also wanted their severance pay to be paid on the last day of employment to avoid delays in its disbursement.

The employer’s failure to address these issues, compelled the workers to approach the Directorate on Dispute Prevention and Resolution (DDPR) for conciliation.

Workers were then given a go-ahead to embark on a legal demonstration. This was followed by an urgent application in the Labour Court lodged by Jonsson Manufacturing in an attempt to block the strike.

An interim court order interdicting the demonstration was issued pending the hearing of the case. The workers responded by filing an appeal in the Labour Appeal Court.

When the case was later finalised, the employer lost the case to block the strike. However, this was after the employer had already dismissed the workers acting on the interim court order.

After the workers’ strike, they were issued with letters terminating their employment on allegations of engaging in an unlawful strike.

“This letter serves to inform you of the immediate termination of your employment with Jonsson Manufacturing Pty Ltd.

“The termination follows your act of engaging in an unlawful strike today the 8th April 2019.

“You engaged in the said strike despite the fact that you were informed that you were interdicted from engaging in same by an order of the court. You failed to resume your normal duties despite ultimatums given to you during the said strike.

“You are expected to return any property of Jonsson that might be in your possession,” the company’s letters to the fired workers state.

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