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BNP pay dispute goes to court

 

Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

The Labour Court is this week expected to hear a case in which the Basotho National Party (BNP) is challenging a ruling made by the Directorate of Dispute Prevention and Resolution (DDPR).

The DDPR last month directed the BNP to pay M16 000 to its deputy secretary general (SG), ’Matseki Mapuru, for the time she was acting SG last year.

The arbitrator further ordered the party to pay Ms Mapuru the money within 30 days of the ruling made on 22 March 2016.

However, a claim of M9, 189.60 Ms Mapuru said she was owed by the party for being acting SG for 28 days between January and February 2015 was dismissed by the DDPR.

But instead of complying with the award, the BNP filed a notice of motion to challenge the DDPR ruling before the Labour Court, with the matter set for hearing on 19 April 2016.

The party argues the arbitrator “acted unreasonably and without any evidentiary basis when awarding the first respondent (Ms Mapuru) underpayments as there was no evidence of an agreement on how much the applicant (BNP) had agreed to pay as her salary”.

The BNP added the DDPR “acted unreasonably and contrary to the laws and rules of interpretation in as far as held that the wages order had the effect of imposing an obligation on the applicant contrary to the main Act, namely the Labour Code Order, which left the decision to pay maternity leave entirely at the discretion of the employer”.

The BNP submits because of “these irregularities” the party stood to suffer prejudice in that it was obliged to pay money granted “unfairly” to Ms Mapuru.

BNP deputy leader Joang Molapo noted in his founding affidavit that Ms Mapuru is “a Mosotho female adult currently occupying the applicant’s office of secretary on terms unknown to the applicant and its executive committee”.

The party wants the court to suspend the award pending finalisation of the trial, and cites the DDPR as second respondent in the matter.

Meanwhile, Ms Mapuru approached the DDPR on 18 November 2015, claiming she should have been paid for the 15 days she acted in the position of secretary general in January 2015 and 13 days she acted in the same capacity in February. She claims a total amount of M9, 189.60 for the 28 days she was acting SG.

She further claimed from the time she was “fully appointed to be the secretary general, she was underpaid because she expected to be paid M8, 000 whereas she was paid M6, 000”, notes her papers presented before the DDPR.

Ms Mapuru also noted she was underpaid by M16 000 from March 2015 to October 2015.

“It is on the abovementioned basis that the applicant claims to be paid a total figure of M25 189,” read the DDPR papers.

“It was argued on behalf of the respondent that the reason why the applicant was not paid for January 2015 and February 2015 is because under the respondent’s constitution, only the secretary general is remunerated and the rest of the office holders are volunteers.”

The BNP had further argued before the DDPR that from the time Ms Mapuru “was fully appointed as secretary general, she was paid M6 000 in line with the instruction from one of the organisation’s leaders.”

Ms Mapuru, according to the award, assumed the role of BNP deputy secretary general in March 2014.

“It is also common cause that at the time she assumed the position, the office of the secretary general was occupied by a certain Mr (Lesojane) Leuta and he was paid a monthly salary of M8000 during his tenure,” the papers read.

But when Mr Leuta fell sick for 15 days in January 2015, Ms Mapuru took over the SG’s role. Mr Leuta was also absent from work in February 2015 and “afterwards, he fully vacated office and Ms Mapuru was appointed to act fully as secretary general”, the award showed.

In March and April 2015, Ms Mapuru was not remunerated but the following month, she was paid M12 000 as “acting allowance”, the ruling notes.

It was on the basis of this that Ms Mapuru approached the DDPR.

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