Load-shedding – what are your rights?Bayside workers in Richards Bay have been asked to pay the ultimate sacrifice for Eskom and government's delay in building new energy generating capacity – they have lost their jobs.

However, many Numsa members across the country are also sacrificing – they are losing pay or being put on short-time because of load-shedding.

And news from Eskom is that load-shedding will continue for some time to come! So what are your rights?In engineering, Thulani Mthiyane says that employers should use clause 7 in the main agreement that talks about short-time because of "unforeseen circumstances".

"This clause says that if I arrive at work in the morning, and am told that today because of unforeseen circumstances (the power is out) I cannot work and the employer sends me home, the employer will have to pay workers as if they had worked for four hours," says Mthiyane.

However, if the worker comes to work, there is no power and the employer says, "stay here, you will be expected to work when the electricity comes back", but the electricity doesn’t come back and he only goes home after seven hours, then the employer must pay him for the full seven hours.

However, now that Eskom and municipalities are getting better at predicting when they will load-shed, employers may consult with you on the issue. In this case, as long as they give you two days notice of load-shedding, and tell you not to come to work for those hours, they do not have to pay you.

Even so in many companies, workers and employers are negotiating arrangements for workers to work in the time on the days when there is power. When there is no power workers work a shorter day. So normal weekly pay is unaffected.

MotorNumsa motor sector coordinator, Elias Kubeka, advises shop stewards to follow clause 22 on short-time."If the employer wants to make other arrangements he must consult with the union," says Kubeka.

"If the union is agreeable, then the employer must write down what was agreed."Unlike the engineering agreement, in terms of clause 22 of the motor agreement, employers are only required to give one day's notice of short-time.

However, if employers say that workers must come to work but then there is no power, then they must pay workers for at least four hours even if they were only able to work less hours because of the power failure.

This is what our company is doing!

The following is happening in our company due to power failures. Workers on first shift are sent home with loss of pay. Management argues that they have been advised by their company lawyer to do so.

The second shift will report to work without any information of the power failure and they are also not paid for hours not worked. Management argues that Eskom is not informing the company on time so that they can inform workers.

In addition they indicated that due to the company's financial problems they cannot afford to pay workers and that power failures are not the company's problem. Shop steward (name and company withheld to protect writer)

Dear comrade shop stewardWe suggest that you first find out from your municipality or Eskom (whichever body supplies your company with power) when the load-shedding will take place.

Once you know this then you can negotiate with your employer to work in the hours that you lose due to load-shedding. Numsa News editor

Massive increases in input prices are killing us, company claimsGarankuwa Furniture company Jayfurn is asking Numsa to support its call for workers to be paid 50% of the main agreement rates. Already workers are working a 3-day week because of lack of orders.

The company says that since January 2008, the price of steel sold to merchants has increased by 70.42%. “Merchants add a further 10 to 15% on top of that when they sell to us,” claim Jayfurn.Wood too has shot up in price after fires last year devastated vast plantations.

Its major buyers, furniture stores Ellerines and JD are threatening to import all their furniture if Jayfurn transfers its increased input costs onto them.|

The company claims that it is also facing pressure from Chinese, Botswana and Zimbabwe furniture imports where competitors pay lower wages than itself.

Meanwhile car harness manufacturer Pasdech is also threatening short-time after Nissan said it would now source harnesses from Delphi in Botswana and not from Pasdech. 

Cosatu vows to fight rising food and electricity pricesCosatu's campaign against rising food and electricity prices has kicked off with marches in different centres across the country.It has put a section 77 application to Nedlac.

Once the issue is discussed at Nedlac and if it is not resolved, then Cosatu and its affiliates will be able to go on a national legal strike.Follow the details in the media and get updates from your shop stewards.


Numsa News