Vavi stages sit in at Cape Town company over worker dismissals
Zwelinzima Vavi‚ the SA Federation of Trade Unions secretary general‚ and members of his union held a sit in at Imperial Cargo’s premises in the Western Cape on Tuesday evening.
They demanded the reinstatement of the company’s 14 employees who took part in a protest against the Labour Bill and the minimum wage‚ among other things‚ outside parliament‚ last Thursday.
Speaking from the Paarl premises‚ Vavi told TimesLIVE that the union was also demanding the resignation of the company’s controversial CEO‚ Mark Lamberti.
Lamberti has resigned from the Eskom board and the chairpersonship of the Business Leadership South Africa following a high court judgment found that he had demeaned Adila Chilowan’s dignity by referring to her as a female employment equity candidate. Chilowan was employed by Associated Motor Holdings‚ a subsidiary of Imperial Holdings.
“An employer in the form of Imperial Cargo‚ which is part of the Imperial Holdings stable‚ has taken action against 14 workers. It put them on suspension since Friday because‚ on Thursday 12 April‚ these workers participated in a SAFTU-led protest action against the Labour Bill‚ which we are demanding should be crapped‚ against the minimum wage and‚ of course‚ we raised the issue of the VAT increase and a host of other taxes that are impacting on the lives of ordinary workers‚” said Vavi.
He said the strike was protected because Nedlac had issued a certificate to that effect.
Vavi said even if the employees were not members of his union‚ the certificate covered them.
“There was a protection action and Nedlac has issued a certificate to say that all those who wish to participate in this protest action are free to do so because all a protected‚ organised by a union or not. We can’t allow this company to just willy-nilly suspend the workers‚” said Vavi.
“When we came here‚ this company said‚ ‘We have received an opinion from our lawyers and they gave us the green light to suspend and to these workers into a hearing’. They said‚ ‘We have asked for a second opinion and we are still waiting’. But we just read Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act and showed them the certificate. What opinion? They want to say they can do this and come back to us tomorrow and that is why we are saying we are not leaving‚” he added.
He then laid into Lamberti.
“Mark Lamberti abuses a fellow manager‚ referring to her as an affirmative female employee. He had to resign from the Eskom board‚ he has resigned from the chairpersonship of Business Leadership South Africa. Why he is not resigning as the CEO of this company?” asked Vavi.
Comment from Imperial Cargo was not forthcoming. An employee who only identified himself as Siyabonga said the HR manager was busy and was could not talk to TimesLIVE.
“He is busy on the line sir. You have to speak to (him) when he is finished‚” he said.