An administration clerk was unfairly dismissed at the Central Secondary High School under the auspices of the School Governing Body (SGB), and allegedly with the interference of the principle who the dismissed employee felt was being unfair.
At the Council for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) the dismissed employee was struck over the fingers for bringing in a dispute beyond the 30 day deadline according to the Labour Relations Act (LRA). She was advised to accept a month’s remuneration as settlement by the honourable commissioner.
Under LRA you have 30 days to to refer a dispute to the CCMA. Thereafter, you have to apply for Condonation with valid reasons why the dispute was referred late. This was the mishap in this labour case. The applicant raised the issue that she was ‘held on a line’ for the period and was not sure if she actually had a case or not.
The applicant alleges that the principle was involved in a labour matter, which should have only been handled by the SGB. There are also allegations that the chairperson had recruited a family member in the place of the unfairly dismissed employee. “I feel this is nepotism on the side of the chairperson and racism on the side of the principle. I feel that it was all very unfair – but I would also rather not want to work in an environment of unfairness like that,” commented the applicant to the media. For the sake of clarity, it is emphasised that the principle is apparently of Caucasian race, and the dismissed applicant black. Race should never really be mentioned in any news article unless for the sake of clear communication.
The school raised the issue that according to their account, she was only temporarily employed for two weeks and not permanently. The applicant proved that she was listed as an permanent employee on their financial statements and that the aforementioned was not the case. At the end of the day, the CCMA encouraged the applicant and respondant in this case to draw up a settlement and agree on the amount.
Because the case was referred so late and was not accompanied by an accepted Condonation Application, this counted against the dismissed employee. The CCMA encourages employees to refer disputes within the time frame fairly given. “I was not given any form of contract as they said that is how things work here, now I feel this contravention has counted against me as solid proof of employment,” she remarked.
“I also plan on going to the Daily Sun with this story so that it can come under the magnifying glass of the Department of Education. I am not going to leave it here,” she concluded. After contacting the school, the principle had no comment. In the fairness of balance, the fact that a settlement was signed means one cannot necessarily accuse the school of unfair dismissal – yet this can be argued should arbitration have ensued with condonation for a late application.