Workers take a knock for refusing black economic empowerment scheme

Black employees of a major engineering firm face being penalized for failing to accept their employer’s “devious request” to take over the running of the company under the auspices of the broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) scheme.

Through BBBEE legislation, unscrupulous employers wantonly enlist their employees as shareholders in order to cream off profits in lucrative government tenders which strongly favoured black economic empowerment contestants.

Genrec engineering management, in a dramatic move, is taking to the Labour Court the giant National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and its 170 members, the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBCO) and a commissioner who presided over the dispute case of their dismissal for refusing to participate in the company sponsored BBBEE meetings.

A series of meetings were reportedly conducted by the company since December last year to explain the Letsemma black empowerment proposal, but employees repeatedly refused to attend.

Workers who failed to attend the BBBEE meetings were summarily dismissed after written warnings were issued repeatedly. They were consequently hauled before disciplinary enquiries as a result of their failure to attend these meetings.

And the hearings were conducted in respect of each accuse individual employee, who were all dismissed for allegedly boycotting the so-called company organized “black economic empowerment meetings” under Letsemma BBBEE. .

But, the bargaining council arbitration has ruled in favour of the union and ordered that the cases should be consolidated into a single dismissal case in respect of all 170 union members because the scarce dispute resolution resources would be extensively overstretched.

Genrec management this week applied to the Labour Court to have the ruling set aside because the company would be severely and unfairly prejudiced. If a single hearing is conducted, the company feared that it would not be able to prepare properly and avail witnesses for every instance of defense raised by dismissed employees, the company claimed.

NUMSA’s chief legal officer Booysen Mashego yesterday vowed to fight the dismissed workers’ case with all our strength to the last extremity. “As a union we are not prepared to tolerate this nature of exploitation of metalworkers by unprincipled white employers, we will pursue them to their highest constitutional structure to ensure that this window- dressing come to the close end,” he said.

For further information contact Mziwakhe Hlangani,

NUMSA national information officer

Cell phone: 082 940 7116