BHP loath to pay black engineer’s programme

When metallurgical engineering graduate Bongani Ngobese enlisted for two-year experiential people’s skills development programme at Hillside Aluminium plant, it never occurred to him that the contract would be unilaterally changed soon for any reason.

Although the management proposed to adjust the salaries of graduate trainees with the latest option to pay back R320 000 if the contract was terminated due to misconduct on the part of trainees, he never anticipated that he would be forced to resign for choosing the original contract.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa(Numsa) and BHP Billiton are now headed for a raging dispute over termination of a contract of the black trainee engineer specialist.

And the prematurely termination of Ngobese’s contract has a major fury among the Numsa shopstewards and employees in general. The Richards Bay plant has claimed meanwhile that the termination was consensual.

Numsa officials had earlier challenged the hefty penalty of R320 000 pay back on trainees who were dismissed for any type of misconduct. And this apparently sounded troubling to the management as it displayed early stage symptoms of lack of commitment on the part of the graduate trainees.

The graduate development programme has attracted an increasingly thousands of serious young black graduates who were keen to live and work longer in the company. But they were gravely disappointed by the sudden changes to their contracts introduced by the management.

Numsa is outraged at the bigoted and glaring untrustworthy approach by the Hillside management by insisting that no variation of the terms of termination agreement shall be of any force.

Cedric Gina, second vice-president of Numsa pointed out that the union was prepared to wrestle it out in arbitration to the end as it was a disturbing indeed to see empowerment of young graduates being turned before our eyes into explicit exploitation by management.

For further information contact:

Mziwakhe Hlangani, Numsa national spokesperson

Cell phone: 082 9407116

E-mail :


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