Dear Judy

Dear JudyIn the last Numsa News two members from the Bellville local complained about service from the Bellville local. See the letters below:

Dear JudyOur union does not show or care for service amongst its members more especially in Bellville Local. No organiser is coming to our workplace that is point number one. Point number two, our union is very, very weak these days, no-one cares at all. The organiser who was very, very good was Mr Melford Yakobi who left a long time ago. That man was Iqabane.Numsa is only collecting subs at the end of the month for nothing. Numsa slogan is “the iron that can’t bend” but if there is no organiser, Numsa must make a plan for us. We have long time ago completed an application form but no deductions have been made yet. Numsa has lost information of members file. We are facing here too much problems from our management: 1) Monthly meetings at work 2) Job description not to work all over 3) Hours of work overtime and rate of pay 4) we are not clear about pension fund deductions and payments 5) Relationship between employer and employees 6) Sick leave payment when you are sick 7) Labour Relations Act and company procedure 8) Permanent roster not changing when you are sick. Numsa must pull up his socks!.N Mbaxa, BP Tygervalley, Bellville

Dear comrade MbaxaI sent your letter of complaint to the regional secretary, Karl Cloete. This is how he responded to your letterI have received your complaint and have immediately requested the Bellville Local staff to attend to the grievances and to report back to me by 17 November 2006. Many of your problems highlighted can be investigated by Mibco as contraventions and in this regard the Regional Motor Organiser will be asked to assist the members with the contraventions. We agree that motor workers are very neglected and that the time that organisers take to assist motor workers is unacceptably long. I will personally call you to report on exactly what will be done to sort out the many grievances. In your words, we agree that “Numsa pull up their socks” but Comrade Mbaxa must remember that Numsa is the workers who are members of the Union who must make their voices heard. It will also help if you attend the next Bellville Local Shopstewards Council to voice the concerns of workers at BP Tygervalley. To find out when the next meeting will be held please contact Comrade Mildred on 021 – 9451805.

Dear JudyIt is almost 3 years since we started working for the company and we joined the union from the first month but it takes almost two years for Numsa subs to be deducted. The problems are: 1) if a worker does a mistake like mixing petrol car with diesel, all that damage you pay it and it is deducted as if you have taken the loan from the company: ie R3000 damage for 10 weeks without the worker’s consent – R50 to R400 per week. How can you live with R150 – you know we earn peanuts. After that you get a final written warning. You are punished twice. They say the insurance does not cover workers. Your advice will be very much welcome to deal with this pain. We contacted Bellville local for this matter until now and MIBCO agents too, to no avail. 2) We shop stewards don’t exercise union activities. The boss takes all the faxes and throws them in the dustbin. We want to take this matter further with your assistance, the LRA allows us to do this. 3) The customers on forecourt assault us, we are not allowed to fight back because we are not angels. 4) All cashiers’ salaries are deducted for stock lost without their consent. 5) We are busy with skills development but for certain courses – a) fire-fighting, b) first-aid. How can you develop your skills with these courses? They say that we are only allowed to do these two. Yours comrades in pain Mxolisi Jackson Mngxunyeni/Lusapho Mayekiso(s/s) Cape Gate Engen

Dear comrade JacksonI sent your letter of complaint to the regional secretary, Karl Cloete. This is what he has promised to do:We want to thank Cde Mxolisi Jackson for bringing to Numsa’s attention the ill-treatment and poor working conditions that workers are subjected to at Cape Gate Engen. Comrade Roger Piedt our Regional Motor Organiser together with the Bellville Local staff will help you resolve the many grievances at Cape Gate Engen. In our regional office we have also tasked one of our Organisers, Comrade Mohammed Ismail to provide advice to members and in this regard we will request Comrade Mohammed to offer the necessary assistance and advice. Cde Mxolisi and other Numsa members at Cape Gate Engen must not forget that as workers the most powerful weapon is strike action to force employers to improve the lot of workers. Another powerful tool to build a strong union in our workplace is to attend our Numsa Local Shopsteward Councils. We have Cde Mxolisi’s contact details and will be in touch shortly

Since then, this is how the region has responded:BP Tygervalley The company was contacted and promised to effect debit order deductions and fax them back the proof of payment that would have been made to Numsa Head Office. The Regional Secretary also asserted that “Cde Nyameko being an old shop steward in the union knows that they must lodge formal complaints to enable the office to process the same to the Bargaining Council”. Shouldn’t we be conscious about how we utilise our organisation’s resources and strengths, for instance in workplaces where the bosses challenge us on key strategic battles, eg, workplace restructuring and its relative impacts? Shouldn’t we free those resources and rather on our own as shop stewards challenge employers on bread and butter issues like overalls, inspection by the bargaining councils and other such issues? I am not suggesting for one moment that such fights with the bosses are petty but I am coming from a viewpoint that if our organising staff concentrate more on the transformative agenda of our workplaces and less on the overalls and boots for shop stewards to do those themselves, this can build the much needed unity and political power in those shop floors as we forge our struggle ahead..

Cape Gate Engen – BrackenfellOn the Cape Gate Engen problem, the regional secretary, Karl Cloete reports that comrade Jackson was advised to speak telephonically to Ike Abrahams, the educator, on how they can establish an Employment Equity committee. This was the last time they heard from the comrade. If comrade Jackson had turned up about the complaint about mixing the petrol and diesel, the organiser, Vanessa Le Roux, would have advised the comrade that “it is a dismissible offence, especially if it is not for the first time, as workers are getting training to read petrol caps before putting petrol or diesel into a car.” Unfortunately it is regarded as gross negligence. In terms of payment, YES, the company has to deduct the damage money, but not more than 30% of the employee’s weekly / monthly earnings (Clause 33, section 11 d.) Comrade Bobby, the local organiser, has confirmed that he will visit these two companies around March 7.

Dear JudyI live at Moumeng Mmakau. I have not been working since 1999 when I was retrenched. I am asking Numsa to help my with my children’s school fund, stationery and food. David M. Monotsi

Dear comrade MonotsiUnfortunately Numsa does not provide any benefits once you are retrenched. It is something that Numsa is very concerned about but at the moment it does not have funds to do this.

Numsa writer Ayanda Billie spoke to Judy Madumo, acting national education officer, about the regular “Dear Judy” column.

When did you start writing the Dear Judy column?I started doing the column in 1999. In fact it was during my inception at head office as an administrator for the ERPU (Education, Research and Publications Unit) that a decision was taken to bring members closer to their union through this column.

Has there been any growth through the years?Yes, there has been personal growth first and foremost. I am more content with myself now; I know what I want or don’t want in life. This is a very big achievement for me as a person. I also think that I have grown into a professional, analytical thinker who always yearns to learn new things in terms of my work. These are attributes that are a direct manifestation of the work that I do in this column.

How are some of the letters affecting you?I would say very positively. I think I have since grown from strength to strength since 1999. Remember that the stories are not of my own making. I don’t cause the eventualities that union members or staff members find themselves in – I only facilitate the answers to the problems that members raise. I am a player in a large team, be it from the legal or finance or membership unit for instance, and I am also happy for the co-operation from Regional Secretaries to whom these letters get sent so that they themselves in their respective offices facilitate those replies from locals. Growing the readership of the column, I don’t currently know where it stands at this moment, but I get compliments from fraternal organizations such as Cosatu and a comrade from a garage around the corner was telling me in January that he reads the paper all the time.

What have you learnt throughout the time you have written your column?I am a small mobile advice office. I used to stay not too far from Oliver Tambo and MaTambo’s grave and my house was like an office. I have since learnt that you should never treat people differently no matter what place they come from.