DISPUTES, INDUSTRIAL ACTION & DEMONSTRATIONS

Post Office and CWU

  • The Communication Workers Union (CWU) says it, together with other unions at the Post Office, still plan to down tools, on Wednesday and Thursday this coming week, to push for salary increases which it says have not been paid for the past two years.
  • The Post Office has faced some crippling strikes and corruption in recent years. It made a R1,5 billion loss last year, and had to be bailed out by government by at least, R650 million, this year.
  • New Post Office CEO Mark Barnes says a strike is unwarranted because the grievances of the unions are currently being attended to. “We are on the point of raising all the capital necessary for us to put the Post Office back where it should be. I think to disturb that process now by more industrial action in relation to matters of the past in which we are dealing with – … the issue here was that we want the money to arrive before we engage and address those issues.”

JOB MARKET: JOB CREATION & RETRENCHMENTS

Lily Mine job security

  • Lily Mine management informed the 650 workers of the mine workers that they would not receive their remuneration on the usual pay-day in April, but “possibly” only last Friday (normal pay day is the 25th of the month).
  • However, no payments were made on Friday.

UNION POLITICS

New trade union federation

  • Over 2000 trade unionists, representative of about 50 unions from very different backgrounds, have called for the formation of a new trade union federation to rival Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).
  • A new federation has been on the cards since Vavi and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) were expelled from Cosatu.
  • Union bosses attending the workers summit say it’s time for an independent organisation to represent workers.
  • Speakers echoed Vavi’s call for the formation of a new labour federation, emphasising that while its core focus should be on fighting to defend workers’ rights, it should guard against being exploited by political organisations.
  • There are however questions to be answered: There are already four trade union federations in South Africa (COSATU, NACTU, FEDUSA and CONSAWU). It could therefore be argued that the formation of another federation is not a healthy sign either for companies or for employee rights. As such the main question remains on whether the new federation would be a uniting factor (behind worker rights) or an opposing force (against COSATU).

WAGE NEGOTIATIONS & COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

Numsa demands in 2016 wage negotiations

  • The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) will enter this year’s wage negotiations (particularly in the motor industry) demanding a 20% increase and single-year agreements.
  • Next year, Numsa will likely mount a push for the establishment of collective bargaining across value chains.
  • The union will be bargaining in the auto sector when a three-year wage comes to an end at the beginning of August.
  • The sector’s bargaining covers 14,000 employers and 182,000 employees.
  • Numsa will also conduct wage talks in the metals and engineering sector next year. The trade union is SA’s largest with more than 300,000 members.
  • Regarding specific demands and based on its recent bargaining conference declaration, Numsa will ask for 80-20 splits of medical aid scheme payments in favour of employees, that employers in-source all services, a ban on labour broking, and a R5,000 housing allowance.
  • Although this was not included in the declaration, the union may also agitate for the removal of peace clauses in some wage agreements that allow it to pursue company-specific demands in the aftermath of wage settlements.
  • Numsa is also expected to push for political engagement on the state’s industrial policy.
  • At a special national congress in 2013, the union decided to organise across sectors, as well as seek collective bargaining across value chains, which could allow it to coordinate demands for mine workers to metalworkers. This could also open an avenue for Numsa through which it would be able to recruit members more broadly, from office workers right through to caterers.
  • Numsa is facing competition from the Liberated Metalworkers Union of SA (Limusa), a Cosatu affiliate that may participate in future wage talks.
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