Assmang workers protest employee suspension

2008-07-29 00:00

Workers at the Assmang Manganese in Cato Ridge downed tools yesterday, in protest against the imminent expulsion of an Industrial Relations Officer (IRO) of the company, who was suspended early this year after he developed differences with his union and management.

Most operations stopped as workers spent the whole day toyi-toying and held meetings inside the company’s premises. Contract workers were sent home.

During the strike the workers demanded that the suspended IRO, Bheka Guyborn Mkhize, who is a card carrying member of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) be allowed inside the premises to address them.

The company suspended Mkhize on April 6 after charging him with gross misconduct. The disciplinary hearing, which found Mkhize guilty, was held on Monday. The Witness understands that the outcome of the hearing, which will also decide his future with the company, will be made available on August 6.

“Although the decision has not been formally made the seriousness of the charges against me means that I’m fired,” said Mkhize.

Apparently his union also wanted him to step down as the IRO after it accused him of leaking confidential information to its rival National Union of Mineworkers (Num). Both unions are affiliated to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).

“This whole thing of my suspension started when Numsa collaborated with the management on accusing me of inciting workers to go on strike on January 24. Numsa went on to accuse me of having too many telephonic conversations with Num,” said Mkhize.

Numsa has rejected allegations that it developed differences with Mkhize.

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