Labour Brokers: Workers hold firm

Workers hold firm

Peter Thobejane

Since March workers at Pan African Shopfitters have marched and picketed outside their Germiston workplace to show their feelings about the company’s use of labour brokers.

Sparks started to fly in September last year. Numsa demanded that the company must take on temporary workers with more than 3 months service employed on limited duration contracts (LDC) as permanent staff. Management took some, but not all. It threatened that if Numsa continued putting pressure on the company over this, it would consider switching to labour brokers. Numsa urged the company to follow the engineering Main Agreement.

Early this year, management notified Numsa that it wanted to use labour broker, Transman. It said it needed skilled workers.

Numsa said that the company must train the current workforce and accused the company of running away from creating quality jobs. It rejected the use of Transman.

At a follow up meeting, the parties deadlocked. Numsa declared a dispute with the company saying that it had violated section 20 subsection 11 (c) by bringing in the labour broker without Numsa’s consent.


Court rules that workers cannot strike on the issue

At the dispute meeting, the company representative insisted that the commissioner should refer the matter to arbitration.

Numsa rejected this. It said the commissioner must just issue a certificate to say if the matter was resolved or unresolved. If the dispute remained unresolved, then the parties could follow the provisions of section 20 sub-section 11 (c) (ad) that say “notification and consultation process should not limit the employees and employer rights to implement industrial action in accordance with the provisions of the LRA if there’s no agreement.”

Despite promising to notify the parties about the outcome within five days, there is still no outcome from the Commission.

Since the day after the conciliation meeting, workers have held lunch-time demonstrations every day and have received support from Numsa-organised companies in the Driehoek industrial area.

Workers say they want to teach employers a lesson that they must stop abusing, undermining and violating the provisions of the industry agreements or any other legislation in all sections. They say that Numsa must continue to demand the outlaw of labour brokers in the industry.