MASERU — The Lesotho Workers Association (Lewa) wants the Directorate on Dispute Prevention and Resolution (DDPR) to remove an arbitrator dealing with their member’s case alleging that he is “biased”.
Lewa secretary-general Mosesanyane Masoebe is representing Molefe Tholoana who is demanding M39 000 from the Roma Taxi Association (RTA) for unfair dismissal, unpaid overtime work and leave days. Masoebe told the DDPR that he was not comfortable with Thabang Thamae as the arbitrator.
Lewa filed a recusal application against Thamae after he allegedly encouraged the RTA to deal with Tholoana at the disciplinary hearing “so that he could be expelled procedurally”.
Masoebe told the Sunday Express in an interview that he filed an application seeking Thamae’s recusal after his “shocking advice to the taxi association that it should try our client at the disciplinary hearing to create a platform for procedural dismissal”.
“I was so shocked that I did not know what to say,” Masoebe said.
“We agreed before him that we were settling for reinstatement but he took us by surprise when he recommended that our client should be charged formally at work upon arrival.
“His role as an arbitrator was to hear the case and make a ruling instead of advising another party on what it should do to win the case.
“I am of the strong feeling that he had a peculiar interest in this case.”
Masoebe said Tholoana was charged with desertion and a disciplinary hearing was held at his workplace.
He lost the case and was dismissed, Masoebe said.
Lewa then filed an unfair dismissal case together with an application of non-jointer of issues that remained in the previous matter.
This was because in the initial application Lewa was challenging only Tholoana’s dismissal and were not claiming money.
When they made the second application they challenged his dismissal and also claimed his benefits which included unpaid leave days and overtime allowances.
“We wanted the taxi association to pay our client terminal benefits and his outstanding leave days that is why we filed for non-jointer of issues.
“Our case had been postponed to March 19, 2010 when we would be addressing him on the merits but on the 17th I went to the DDPR on a different case and I found the taxi association’s representatives there and were ready to proceed with the case,” Masoebe said.
“When I asked why they were about to proceed with the case without our knowledge they said it had been postponed to the 17th.
“They produced documents showing that the case was to continue on the 17th and when I showed them my papers that said we were to proceed on the 19th they were adamant that Thamae should hear the case or else we should be rolled.”
Masoebe said the papers the RTA representatives had were fraudulent.
“The March 19 date on their papers had been cancelled with a red pen and replaced with the date of March 17.
“There was no writing by a pen on my documents.”
He said when he confronted Thamae on the issue he agreed to postpone the case to April 26.
“I am of the belief that Thamae wanted to proceed with the case without us.”
Thamae declined to comment.
“I will not talk about this case because it is sub judice,” Thamae said.
“I know of the case but I will not comment.”
• Additional reporting by ’Mantoetse Maama