Striking Toyota workers suspended as Dada gets tough
A war of words has erupted between Satar Dada and disgruntled Toyota Motor Centre mechanics who downed tools in protest over low wages.
The motor vehicle magnate and Botswana Democratic Party Treasurer was locked in a heated argument with employees on Wednesday morning.
The workers claim that their unsympathetic boss used insulting language as their protest ended in at least 32 employees being suspended.
Disgruntled Toyota mechanics gathered under a tree outside their workshop last Wednesday clutching their letters of suspension after a heated meeting with Dada.
The 32 suspended employees claimed to The Voice that they were involved in a shouting match with their boss. The Motor Centre Executive Chairman is said to have lost his cool and used insulting language when the employees demanded an increment.
They workers said the protest reflected a loss of patience after years of trying in vain to get Dada to listen to their grievances.
“We have written countless letters to him over the past three years asking him to meet us, but he has ignored our pleas. Today we decided to go on strike as a last resort,” said Bashi Moremedi.
Moremedi said he had been working for Motor Centre as a technician for the past 25 years, but only earned a monthly salary of P3 845.
“I cannot even pay for decent accommodation let alone take care of my family,” he lamented.
The angry employees said whilst Dada donated generously to the ruling BDP and other organisations, he ignored the plight of his own workers, who they claimed received lower wages than Toyota mechanics in other branches.
They cited the example of a storekeeper who doubles up as an assistant technician who has been on a salary of P940 for the past four years.
“Now just tell what one is supposed to do with that. People see us in this flashy building and have the wrong idea that we are earning good salaries, whilst we are struggling to make ends meet. We believe it is time we got the matter out into the open,” they said.
“With all these problem how would you feel if you have your boss telling you that you will be fired if you are not willing to work? He told us that there are a lot of unemployed mechanics who will be willing to fill our vacant posts if we are fired,” said worker Joseph Ndaba.
Ndaba has been working at Motor Centre for nine years and is earning P2000.
Another employee, Nicholas Ntoko was close to tears when he related his ordeal. “I have been working for six years and I’m still earning P1200 with my trade B certificate,” he said.
When reached for comment Dada rubbished the claims of his employees.
“They are liars! What they held was an illegal strike. Those employees are ill mannered, stubborn and rude,” he said.
Dada maintained that he had never used obscene language and accused his employees of peddling lies to make him look bad.
“We have never refused to listen to them. The truth is there is a process that has to be followed as most of these employees have joined a union. We therefore have to include the union in everything we do.
“We tried to explain this to them, but they do not want to listen. It is the law and we cannot bypass it. The problem is they want to talk to us directly, but it is impossible. It is the law,” Dada repeated.