On the Shopfloor: SHARE your profits, angry workers of Alstom demand

Angry workers at John Thompson Africa (JTA) Cape Town, a division of the Alstom Group downed tools on July 25, after the company unilaterally issued a share of their profits to only a certain group of employees.The workplace of Omar Gire, Numsa’s ex-national treasurer, has a history of discrimination against blue collar workers who do the actual work. In 2000 a division of the company got an incentive when profits were made. Numsa members were unhappy and were told it would never happen again. The company promised to look at an incentive scheme where all workers would benefit, but this never materialised. This year again a certain group of employees received an ex-gratia payment when the company made huge profits. The company reacted by saying that it was within their rights to give to whom they wanted – those employees who received the ex-gratia payment had not received a bonus as their bonus had eroded over the past years.Numsa members believed the company was unfair as they are the ones that ensure a boiler leaves the plant. If other employees’ wages are not market-related the company must rectify the problem. Profits must be shared amongst all employees. A dispute was then declared and workers notified the company of their intention to strike. The strike was a huge success as all 139 NUMSA members went on strike; non-members joined the strike on the second day. The strike united workers at JTA and rebuilt the organisational strength. On the fifth day of the strike the company offered an ex-gratia payment to all workers of R120 000. Workers accepted this offer as the strike was a matter of principle to them. Each Numsa member and employee who joined the strike received R1 024 tax free, after subtraction of bank charges.A lesson to all other Numsa members – when there is profit sharing, all should reap the benefits.