Dismissed trucking company employee fights back | Fin24
 
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Dismissed trucking company employee fights back

Aug 21 2015 07:45
Tariro Washinyira

Cape Town - Johannes Chakuvinga lodged complaints of assault and unfair dismissal against Stikland company GSP Trucking in May with the industry bargaining council.

Under the impression the company was closing, Chakuvinga was persuaded in July to settle for R5 750. But the company has not closed, and he wants to re-open his complaint.

GSP Trucking fired its workers, all Zimbabwean men, claiming it was closing down. GroundUp exposed how the company has not actually closed, and how the dismissals appear to be linked to the employees joining a union.

Chakuvinga, 56, who brought his complaint to the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry, claims his employer lied to him and the bargaining council, and didn’t close down on 31 July 2015, as the company claimed. He says the settlement was reached under false pretences and wants to reopen his complaint.

When GroundUp called GSP Trucking, posing as customers, on 6 August, the company did not seem to be closed. Officials clearly intended to do business with us. On 19 August, GSP Trucking’s website was still operational, and GroundUp called the company again, using its listed telephone number. The person who answered said the company was still open, but trading under a different name. She said that said GSP Trucking had been bought by Unichain.

Even if it has been bought, the liabilities of the old company would transfer to the new company.

Chakuvinga said a dispute resolution hearing had been held in July at the bargaining council offices in Parow. The commissioner had focused on the closure of the company rather than on his grievances, and had suggested he accept a settlement offer, which he had done.

The dispute dates back to February 2013, when, says Chakuvinga, he was assaulted by a workshop manager after querying a punishment he had been given.

He says his shoulder, back and feet were injured in the assault. He was treated at Kraaifontein hospital and filed a complaint with the police at Bellville police station.

Lieutenant-Colonel Van Der Westhuizen of Bellville Police Station confirmed that a complaint had been laid. He said the police were waiting for a witness who was out of town.

'I was forced to drive 12 hours after assault'

Chakuvinga said he had been expected to return to work as usual after the assault and was expected to drive more than 12 hours without a break.

In March, a doctor had instructed the employer to give Chakuvinga light duty until his injuries had been treated.

The company manager had said there were no positions with light duty and placed him on sick leave. After an incapacity hearing in March, Chakuvinga was offered two months payment in advance and told he could no longer work at the company, he says.

He left at the end of March.

Karen Daniels, general manager of corporate services at the bargaining council, said the council could not re-open the case.

“The case between Johannes Chakuvinga and GSP Trucking was settled at conciliation and a settlement agreement was reached and signed between the parties. Council was not a party to the dispute, we only ensured that the dispute was heard by an independent accredited commissioner.”

She said if Chakuvinga was unhappy with the settlement option, he would have to approach the Labour Court.

“He will have to convince the court to overrule the settlement agreement,” she said.

Asked for comment, Frans Cronjé of Cronje’s Attorneys, who represent GSP Trucking, said he had forwarded the request to the company.

- See more at GroundUp.

dismissal  |  labour action
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