Unitrans fires protesting employees

Leungo Mokgwathi
DISMISSED: Unitrans truck drivers

About 80 Unitrans employees were slapped with termination letters five days into a protest that sought to bring the management’s attention to their grievances.

After detailing these grievances in a letter, the disgruntled Bulk Vehicle Operators proceeded to boycott work last Friday.

A representative of the protesting employees told this publication that the Stop Work Authority was set in motion after management disregarded their plea for improved working conditions.

“Our requests are as follows: that the Safety, Health, Environment and Quality [SHEQ) allowance, as well as the drop, meal and night allowances be brought back. We are also asking for double pay when we work Sunday shifts which is deemed as a rest day in our contracts. We are requesting a 6% salary increment, and are contesting the reinstatement of Jacob Mboki.”

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He told The Voice that Mboki resigned last year amidst accusations of fraudulent activity.

“He had been stealing from our wages and when the investigation was launched, he resigned. To our surprise, he has been reinstated,” he alleged.

Over the past five days, the employees clustered peacefully outside Unitarians premises, hoping for positive feedback from their employers.

They were instead issued with a letter of dismissal on Tuesday signed by the Managing Director, Mopati Dawn Thomas Mpedi, which reads in part, “You were instructed to resume your duties by 11:30 am, failing which your employment will be terminated as a consequence of your continued engagement in an unlawful industrial action. Despite the ultimatum given to you, you have failed to act accordingly… this correspondence serves to notify you of the termination of your employment with immediate effect.”

Several of the employees said the company had called them for disciplinary hearings which would end in dismissal if they refused to return to work. “They managed to persuade some cowards to return to work, but most of us are unfazed and ready to pack our belongings,’said one defiant employee.

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The haulage truck drivers’ strike and dismissal, can potentially disrupt the distribution of fuel countrywide. This publication paid a visit to the company premises and learned that Unitarians was in the process of hiring new drivers to mitigate this.

Specific instructions were issued to security personnel not to allow The Voice Reporters inside Unitrans premises. Although a questionnaire was sent, Unitrans had not responded at the time of going to press. They were also no longer taking calls.

On Wednesday, the employees were still huddling outside, awaiting their termination letters with the intent of taking the matter up with court for unfair dismissal.

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Meanwhile Botswana Oil Limited, is yet to give feedback on the impact of the strike on fuel distribution.

Booted out
NO MOVEMENT: Unitrans trucks parked


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