Union, employer still locking horns

2018-09-12 06:00
Numsa members at Tshenolo Waste have been on a wage strike for two weeks.Photo: Boipelo Mere

Numsa members at Tshenolo Waste have been on a wage strike for two weeks.Photo: Boipelo Mere

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Tshenolo Waste and the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) are still going back and forth as to whether all union members stand to benefit from the 7,5% salary increase offered by the employer.

The employer has been accused of having coerced its workers to resign from their union following their recent strike action.

A majority of the workers who participated in a week’s strike action for a salary increase, reportedly submitted resignation letters to the union after the settlement agreement to return to work on 4 September.

The union, on behalf of the members, sent a letter accepting the employer’s offer of a 7,5% increase after the employer had failed to meet the initial demand of 9%, and wants to engage on the outstanding 1,5%.

Malusi Molewa, chief executive officer of Tshenolo Waste, reveals that only the workers who are not union members were given the 7,5% increase backdated to June 2018.

He clarified that his workforce consisted of 54 members, of which about 24 took part in the strike. Most of these resigned after the strike, leaving less than five. They are still awaiting clarity from the union on whether to accept the offer unconditionally, or continue with the strike.

“It is confusing for the union to send a letter and accept an offer, while on the other hand still wanting to engage on the same offer. We have written to the union seeking clarity,” said Molewa.

He said no workers stood the risk of losing their jobs for participating in the strike.

According to Richard Shabangu, Numsa local organiser, they had to involve the union’s legal team following threats of instant dismissal made to several of their members, who were allegedly refused continuing duty if they did not sign the union off.

“Our members were allowed to enter the building on 4 September, but were refused touching anything or proceeding with their duties until they signed letters of resignation, sent to our offices in bulk,” said Shabangu.

“They were only allowed to proceed with their duties the next day, after we had sent a warning letter to the employer through our legal team.

“But in terms of our Labour Relations Act we will engage with our members within the next 90 days to determine whether the action of withdrawal was done willingly.

“We will not allow them to pressurise our members like that, it is their right to be represented by a union.”

Shabangu said the workers would get back pay from 1 June to date.

Tshenolo Waste has distanced itself from allegations of intimidation and agreed to acknowledge its workers’ right of association and affiliation.

“It is a constitutionally entrenched right and we cannot deny our workers such a right. We do not know where this allegation emanates from, as we never asked any of our employees to resign from the union. That would be criminal.”

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