Name-dropping not helpful in labour cases
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