At least 650 Assmang workers are to go on strike over the refusal by management to sack
an aggressive general manager who reportedly punched and jostled around a manganese
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa(NUMSA) is up in arms with the
Assmang management and mobilizing a strike after workers who themselves have been
victims to the assault by the plant general manager rejected that he should be let off the
hook with a warning.
Kevin Cookson, general manager of the Assmang plant in Cato Ridge, Durban allegedly
assaulted and manhandled Michael Mpeje for failing to wear ear muffles in the
production line. He has reportedly assaulted many workers before, but he was never
And, in a dramatic about turn, he (Cookson) then pushed around and knocked down the
company director Brian Brookeman, who presided over his disciplinary hearing. This
took place in the hearing chambers in front of shop stewards, the victim of the attack
(Mpeje) and the witnesses who gave evidence against Cookson.
The belligerent Cookson, allegedly bumped and fell down Brookeman after he had found
him guilty of unbecoming behaviour and of assaulting Mpeje. But, the management later
refused press formal charges and to dismiss him after (Brookeman) had deferred the
ruling for consultation with the senior management. Cookson was, instead given a final
“What surprised the union is that Cookson who is known for violent, oppressive
behaviour and of assaulting workers was being treated with kid gloves when other
employees found guilty of assault were summarily dismissed. The management said it
could not be ascertained whether he(Cookson) had intended to inflict serious injuries on
Mpeje,” Guyborn Mkhize, NUMSA full-time shop steward said yesterday.
NUMSA has now referred the case of assault and unbecoming behaviour against
Cookson to the metal and engineering bargaining council. “We believe that the council
arbitration will reach another decision on the matter because it will set precedence as
many workers have been assaulted by the same manager during his plant inspections,”
The union is deeply concerned about the inconsistency of the management policy, which
seemed to dictate that a black worker who is charged with assaulting another employee
should be summarily dismissed and a white topmost manager should be merely warned
for assaulting the worker.
For more information contact:
Mziwakhe Hlangani, NUMSA national information officer
Mobile: 083 7293374.
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org