The past couple of months reminded me of my High School years where you were either cool or not!! Dealing with some of the large scale retrenchments, I’ve experienced first hand the heart-breaking reality of people losing their income, their security and self-worth! Adding insult to injury, the very people appointed in managerial, supervisory or human resource positions who should have softened the blow, made things worse, through either acting from a platform of subjectivity or pure ignorance.
Easing into Level 3 in June 2020, employees at large Dealership could have returned to work and utilised, based on a rotation system, staggering working hours, shifts and even remote working arrangements. The ideal was to balance the operational needs of the business by fairly utilising all employees, who are not at high risk, giving all an opportunity to earn an income.
In a recent meeting with employees affected by a large scale retrenchment process, MISA again had to face the reality of unfair treatment in the place of work, especially during the lock-down period. Many employees, upon receiving a notice of possible retrenchment, were immediately taken from the workplace roster. Others could still work on a three-day or weekly shift. It did however become clear that many Managers and Supervisors went off script and allowed commission workers to work every day from the office, whilst others do not have the benefit of a business computer, data, phone and walk in customers.
Favouritism or giving some employees an advantage in return for something else (quid pro quo) is not a new phenomenon, that we’ve learned during our school years. The Labour Court in Castle Lead Works and Others (JR1490/16)  ZALCJHB 352 (18 December 2019), upheld the dismissal of two supervisors who demanded airtime vouchers in return for granting employees an opportunity to work overtime. The court held that ‘the totality of the evidence presented…point to one direction, that indeed the applicants did demand favours from their subordinates.’
What difference is there between demanding airtime and having drinks after work, or braai over weekends for favours in the workplace? None! Managers and Supervisors have one duty, to manage or to supervise!
We are no longer in school, you have rights and you can demand fair treatment! Most critically, the Labour Court, in Aarons v University of Stellenbosch  7 BLLR 704 (LC) para  warned that “an employee claiming harassment must do more than just make the bald allegation; it must clearly set out why the harassment amounts to unfair discrimination.” Your first step is to inform the person that you do not accept or condone their conduct. Should the bullying continue, you must keep record, clear concise and factual, of the incident(s) i.e. date, time, scenario, witnesses and the effect of the bullying.
You have a voice
I am not ignorant to the reality of verbal and emotional abuse. Favouritism in the workplace takes away one’s self worth, dignity and it steals your confidence and will to fight.
Let MISA be your voice! Phone us!
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