ADVICE: Dear Judi

Dear JudyWe are writing this letter to state some of our special issues in our company. The following issues are the main issues that create big problems between workers themselves and management in Univel Transmissions. This company has got a joint venture with a German company – GKN. Both these companies seem not to care about us as workers in terms of productivity gains that they are getting, because this is a monopolistic enterprise which manipulates the market on the entire continent with manufacturing CV joints and CV shafts.

There is a big gap between operators and setters. The CNC operators are paid at the lowest hourly rate, there is no 5 grade system implemented in this company. We have to operate two CNC machines at the same time and at times perform some change-overs.

We as CNC operators our job description is as follows. We adjust sizes from first-off, check frequency and confirming the correct material to use, there is absolutely no compensation for this hard work, whilst setters are performing only change-increase, while operators have to wait for general increase [the wage gap] and we strongly believe this is an unfair labour practice. The agony on this is that there is no education and training, Merseta projects, Learnership ABET and Skills Development programmes that are taking place inside here, and yet the company is claiming grants from the Merseta.

We even wonder why there is no follow-up from Merseta in terms of checking progress in our company. On behalf of Numsa members, we would like to APPEAL to Head Office to look into this matter very seriously. Because to us it’s like we are still in the apartheid era. Our local is making unnecessary delays. We will reply on your urgent response, please contact our shop stewards at 041 – 4086122

Concerned Numsa MembersUnivel TransmissionNeave TownshipSidwell, PE

Dear Univel membersYou seem to have three major problems:Problem 1 – grading;Problem 2 – skills development and training and Problem 3. You don’t mention this as a problem but it seems to me that you members have become separated from your shop stewards. Your shop stewards should be your eyes and your ears. They should hold regular meetings with you to find out your concerns and to take up those concerns in their monthly meetings with management.Problem 3 can only be resolved by you the workers. Ask your shop stewards to call a general meeting of all workers in your factory – it can be at lunchtime or after work. Tell them what your problems are and how you would like them to solve them. They cannot solve them if they do not know what your problems are. This is how you can solve problem 1 – the grading issue. You are covered by the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council. They employ agents that come and inspect your factory and see whether they are keeping to the agreement.

Ask your shop stewards to phone the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council [get the number from your local office] and ask them to come and visit your company to check whether the operators and setters are correctly graded. They will ask you what work each of you does and compare it with the work required by the grade. In terms of the engineering main agreement, the shop stewards are allowed to ask for a copy of the report that the bargaining council agent writes about the grading system.

With Problem 2, you are not alone. At Numsa’s training conference last year, many shop stewards complained that companies were not training workers in real skills. One way to stop this is to make sure that your shop steward checks all the training documents that go to the Merseta every year. For example, the annual training report. This spells out what training the company has completed. It must also submit a Workplace Skills Plan which a shop steward must also sign. Ask your shop stewards to check all these documents and report to you. If you don’t agree, you can refuse to sign them and then the Merseta will have difficulty claiming grants. The Merseta has also employed labour coordinators. Their job is to help workers identify training needs and draw up workplace skills plans. There are Merseta labour coordinators in most regions. Get your shop steward to find out from Numsa’s local office.

Numsa’s education department is also working on a course for shop stewards that will give shop stewards tips in how to negotiate skills and training issues and link them with the Employment Equity Act. Tell your shop steward to watch out for this in their local.

Dear Judi Please help us with this problem; Ranel Trust is the liquidators of all Bolts & Nuts in Vereeniging. They give us forms to fill for our money but till today they did not pay us. The company closed on 12/9/2003. All nine of us did not get any cent from Ranel Trust as they had promised us after the company was sold. Their phone no is [011] 486-0080 talk to George Ramahlo or Mr Danny Rayson his cell no is 0832715882, he was our director.

Jonas MafumaVanderbylpark

Dear JonasThe matter has been taken over by Saacawu since workers joined Saccawu. Contact your nearest Saccawu office to find out details but be warned – money owed to workers because of liquidations can take a very long time.

Dear JudyAs a member of Numsa, in 2004 I had a case with Samancor Ferrometals [Witbank site] in what I thought was an unfair dismissal case. We went to CCMA along with Mr Mashegoane and I won the case and was reinstated after 8 months being unemployed with all the benefits as previously but I was never compensated for the time I lost. My question is, is it possible to be reinstated without being paid for the time wasted or lost because it was not my fault but the company’s fault.

P NWitbank

Dear P NIt is not easy to tell as the order is not in front of me. It could have been that the reinstatement was retrospective and compensation is from the time that you were dismissed. But it can also occur that the commissioner has established that you caused your own dismissal, and as such, reinstatement will be without compensation. Please go back to Cde Mashegoane and he will clarify the award for you again.

Dear Comrade

Comrade, please help us to root out shopstewards who are just having it nice ‘n easy at our expense. We believe that our shopstewards are taking bribes from our Managing Director because that’s what he does when someone would oppose the way he runs things, for instance working on holidays, which our shopstewards wouldn’t question or say no to. Before, they used to question his decision for working during holidays and rating normal hours.

Until mid 2005 when we started experiencing new shopstewards. They are so quick to accept questionable decisions. Quite frankly we are back to scratch because when we report discrimination issues from the Technical Manager [partner] they just brush it away. Four co-workers have passed away and nothing was paid to their families. So comrade, I know that you may opt for change [re-electing] of shopstewards. There’s a slight problem though. You see in our company we are an illiterate bunch, and they know that because they’re the ones with matric. Even this letter is written by my cousin.

Thanks to Numsa’s newspaper for the insight.

Worried workersChamdor Krugersdorp

Dear comradesWhy not enrol in ABET classes so you can be comfortable in reading, writing and speaking English. Then next time there is are shop steward elections in 2008, you can stand and correct the problems that you are facing. Read this newsletter to see how other Numsa members are building confidence through ABET.

And get your shop stewards to call regular factory general meetings so you can raise your concerns directly with them. Then they must raise those concerns with management and report back to you in the next factory general meeting. Your shop steward is your representative – make him/her work for you!

Remember that in terms of changes made to Numsa’s constitution last year, shop stewards must now call factory general meetings once a month to listen to you and to report back to you how they have taken up your problems.

Good luck!