Name-drop­ping not help­ful in labour cases

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Labour Col­umn

MANY work­ers run all over af­ter dis­missals or when they have a labour dis­pute in the hope that the prob­lem will go away and they get their jobs back.

One of the most com­mon meth­ods is name-drop­ping where the names of the “po­lit­i­cally” pow­er­ful are dropped as a way of in­tim­i­dat­ing em­ploy­ers and in some in­stances some of the “po­lit­i­cally” pow­er­ful are ac­tu­ally en­gaged to try and threaten or in­tim­i­date em­ploy­ers into sub­mis­sion.

The prob­lem with such an ap­proach is that it raises false hope for em­ploy­ees and only to be dis­ap­pointed and in worse cases die of stress when they dis­cover that the jour­ney they were mov­ing through was a waste of time and money.

John was dis­missed from em­ploy­ment over ha­bit­ual poor time keeping. He ap­proached a union and some al­legedly “po­lit­i­cally” pow­er­ful in­di­vid­u­als who wrote a let­ter to the em­ployer claim­ing John’s wages up to pro­jected re­tire­ment age had he not been dis­missed. The to­tal amount was $95 000 against John’s monthly wages of $243. There was drama when the let­ter was de­liv­ered to the em­ployer by a crowd of about 40 peo­ple who were singing songs den­i­grat­ing the em­ployer and also threat­en­ing him.

The em­ployer ig­nored the let­ter on the ad­vice of his lawyers. John changed tact and ap­proached the Min­istry of Labour where par­ties were called for con­cil­i­a­tion. The con­cil­i­a­tion started in a chaotic man­ner with John’s mul­ti­ple rep­re­sen­ta­tives mak­ing mul­ti­ple “po­lit­i­cal” state­ments, which were ir­rel­e­vant to the case.

The labour of­fi­cer kept his cool and when all the drama had sub­sided, he fo­cused on the grounds for dis­missal where the em­ployer led ev­i­dence show­ing John had been warned sev­eral times over poor time keeping but he had not changed. When the rep­re­sen­ta­tives were asked to re­spond, they could not chal­lenge the em­ployer’s po­si­tion.

They seemed ig­no­rant of the fact that they could go for arbitration thus they ac­cepted and signed a cer­tifi­cate of set­tle­ment.

Later, John ap­proached another trade union­ist as ad­vised by his many rep­re­sen­ta­tives who told him that his mat­ter was dead as a cer­tifi­cate of set­tle­ment had been signed with John con­ced­ing he was wrong. He de­vel­oped stress and de­pres­sion as the ex­pected $95 000 was gone.

The al­leged ad­vi­sors dis­ap­peared into thin air.

There are many cases like John’s case where work­ers waste time lit­i­gat­ing us­ing name-drop­ping and peo­ple ig­no­rant of the law re­sult­ing in work­ers los­ing out big time. Work­ers need to un­der­stand that name­drop­ping or us­ing the pow­er­ful does not help win a case, only the facts of a case and fol­low­ing the law are im­por­tant and in most cases when le­gal mat­ters are dis­cussed, name­drop­ping is un­help­ful.

Gen­er­ally, em­ploy­ers are hard­ened and ir­ri­tated by name-drop­ping and us­ing un­ortho­dox means of solv­ing dis­putes, thus killing any op­por­tu­nity of find­ing an am­i­ca­ble so­lu­tion. Smart em­ploy­ers im­me­di­ately hand over name-drop­ping cases to their lawyers where name-drop­ping is not pos­si­ble and in­tim­i­da­tion does not work since lawyers will mi­grate the mat­ter to the courts and ex­pe­ri­ence has shown that the mo­ment a mat­ter gets to court, name-drop­ping dis­ap­pears and all forces that were used to in­tim­i­date the em­ployer ei­ther dis­ap­pear or be­come ir­rel­e­vant.

In worse cases, work­ers who have used name-drop­ping to in­tim­i­date em­ploy­ers and abuse courts have found them­selves los­ing cases and be­ing or­dered to pay the em­ployer’s costs. In some cases, work­ers have been left des­ti­tute. Fur­ther, I find it cruel to abuse a worker who has lost his job by mis­lead­ing the worker, mak­ing prom­ises of huge pay­ments when there’s no pay­ment to be re­ceived at all such that the worker spends sev­eral years mov­ing around car­ry­ing pa­pers re­lated to his case telling peo­ple huge amounts of money are com­ing his way, mak­ing plans how the money will be used, bor­row­ing against the ex­pected money and only to get noth­ing at the end re­sult­ing in the em­ployee at worst dy­ing of stress.

In con­clu­sion, work­ers need to seek ex­pert le­gal ad­vice when they have dis­putes with em­ploy­ers in order to avoid ex­pen­sive risky lit­i­ga­tion, dy­ing of stress and wast­ing their lives chas­ing some­thing that will not ma­te­ri­alise.

Davies Ndu­miso Sibanda can be con­tacted on:

email: strat­waysmail@ya­hoo. com Or cell No: 0772 375 235

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