Workers down tools at company

2019-11-06 06:00
photo: suppliedCeppwawu members gathered outside the premises of UCL Company on October 4.

photo: suppliedCeppwawu members gathered outside the premises of UCL Company on October 4.

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THE wage negotiations between members of the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu) in Dalton and their employer UCL Company, have reached a deadlock. Workers are demanding 10% on top of the minimum wage while the employer is offering six percent on top of the minimum wage.

The union is affiliated to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu). The strike has been going on for almost two weeks, with the employees protesting outside the company’s offices since the beginning.

A Dalton based company, UCL Company specialises in the manufacture of wattle tannin extracts, sugar and pine lumber.

Shop steward Mzikayise Mbedu said workers are angry as the employer told them that should they continue embarking on a strike, the company will employ new workers who will work on a contract basis.

“We used to get seven-percent increases on our salaries. When the government implemented the National Minimum Wage law that came into effect on January 1, our employer refused to add to the minimum wage. Workers are furious because the employer wants to hire new employers while negotiations are under way.”

Mbedu said the workers are willing to fight for their rights until their demands are met.

“We are not going anywhere until our demands are met. Workers need a seven-percent increase,” Mbedu added.

On November 4, members of Ceppwawu again gathered outside the company’s premises demanding better salary increments.

Union representative Lungile Mbhele told the Gazette that the employer agreed to give workers a salary increment of six percent next year.

“Workers are demanding 10% salary increases. The employer is putting six percent on the table. We agreed to take six percent on condition that the employer will increase salaries this year, and not next year. We understand that our country is facing an economic crisis, but workers are not prepared to wait until next year to receive the salary increments,” Mbhele said.

He said the striking workers are employed permanently by the company.

The company operates on 6 500 hectares of farmland and runs a trading division for the supply of agricultural input materials. Chief executive officer of the company Rolf Lutge said: “The negotiations with Ceppwawu are subject to confidentiality and until the matter has been resolved we are unfortunately not in a position to disclose further details. Once negotiations are concluded we will make a statement available to you.”

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