Robertson Abattoir settlement reached six years later

Employer agrees to pay total of R350k to 39 dismissed workers

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Photo of people sitting in court
Robertson workers inside the labour court in May 2016. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Robertson Abattoir and the 39 workers who claimed they were unfairly dismissed in 2010 have reached a settlement agreement. Robertson Abattoir has agreed to pay R350,000 “without admission of liability”.

The workers were fired after a lockout in November 2010. They said they refused to slaughter 850 animals a day, when their contracts stipulated 600.

The abattoir denied it had “demanded” this of its workers.

Calling the abattoir “hell”, the workers spoke of 18-hour workdays and wages of R300 to R400 a week.

Robertson Abattoir denied any wrongdoing and said 30 workers were dismissed in disciplinary proceedings in December 2010 for insubordination and nine for absenteeism.

In Labour Court in 2015, Judge Anton Steenkamp granted Robertson Abattoir “absolution from the instance”, meaning it did not have to explain why the workers were dismissed as the judge found that the workers could not prove a number of the claims they had made.

The workers, represented by the Commercial, Stevedoring and Allied Workers’ Union (CSAAWU), appealed the judgement. Labour Appeals Court Judge Dennis Davis set aside the Steenkamp decision and ordered that the matter be sent back to the Labour Court.

In Labour Court on 5 December 2016, the parties met and agreed to settle.

GroundUp attempted to get a copy of the settlement agreement, but it was missing from the court file. After GroundUp ran the story, a representative from the Labour Court called to say that a copy of the settlement was now available.

The handwritten settlement, made an order of court, states the R350,000 is the full and final settlement and that each party will pay its share of the legal costs. If evenly divided among the applicants, it is less than R9,000 per worker, six years after their dismissal.

TOPICS:  Labour Labour unions

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