The workers have spoken â€“ labour brokers must goOctober 7 was declared as an international day of action against precarious work (such as that created by labour brokers) and the casualisation of jobs. Cosatuâ€™s 10th National Congress vowed to support it through lunch-time demonstrations, pickets and in some cases marches.
From Madibeng to Port Elizabeth to Bloemfontein, Numsa members in their numbers heeded the call although not all on that day.
Workers told of their experiences at the hands of labour brokers in public hearings that took place later in October.
Here we carry a story of the Madibeng march, photos of some of the activities (look on the front page as well) and another story of why workers donâ€™t want labour brokers.
Labour brokers campaign reignites militancyYingwani Mashaba
Traffic on the R599 road at the Hernic intersection came to a complete halt as Cosatu Madibeng local marched to Hernic Ferrochrome on October 16 to hand over a memorandum of grievances. (see box)
The factory employs 520 permanent workers with about 1800 workers contracted to labour brokers.As early as 10 am, marchers set the tone that Cosatu will never give in to capital, singing â€“ â€œObo se bona mathathâ€™ Cosatu ye tengâ€ (they have not seen trouble yet, Cosatu is here for us.)On that very hot Friday, the Hernic street was bathed in a sea of red as Cosatu and its alliance partners, SACP, YCL, Sanco, ANCWL, ANCYL and the community pledged their support to workersâ€™ cause marking the start of the SACPâ€™s Red October campaign.
The labour broking matter has re-ignited workersâ€™ militancy of years gone by. They resolutely sang and danced with gusto around the road for nearly an hour while members of the South African police watched in admiration.
A sweat-drenched Daniel Mgijima Mangwane, Cosatu deputy chairperson of the Madibeng local and Samwu shop steward, led an emotional yet energetic rendition of â€œLekota usiqhelâ€™ amasimba, uqhekezâ€™ umbutho wethuâ€ (Lekota youâ€™re full of s*&t, youâ€™re breaking up our movement).
Marchers sang along as Mangwane led them to the designated destination.As marchers approached Hernic, senior managers of Hernic, JIC, their labour broker partners â€“ Sindile and Iron Gate â€“ stood outside the gate to receive their memorandum.
They all wore an expression of fear on their faces as the marchers led their way singing, â€œOliver Tambo baphelâ€™ abantu, bayasi-retrencha bayasicasualisa.
Safa yingculazaâ€ (Oliver Tambo, people are suffering, we are being retrenched and casualised. HIV/Aids is killing us.)Like a painting, speaker after speaker from Cosatu and its alliance partners applied more bold brush strokes to reflect the ugly face of capitalismâ€œIt has come to our attention,â€ Cosatu North West provincial secretary, Solly Phetoe, told the senior managers, â€œthat this institution is a hot-bed of labour brokers, racism and for its non-compliance on occupational safety.
As Cosatu we are saying we will fight to the bitter end. We will bring the economy to a standstill until the labour broking industry is completely banned.â€ His words were greeted with thunderous applause from the crowds.
Memorandum to Hernic Ferrochrome, Sindile and JICCosatu demands:* decent accommodation with running water for workers* that Hernic Ferrochrome must desist from nepotistic practices and discriminatory forms of employment* the reinstatement of those dismissed workers unconditionally and with full benefits* the banning of all labour brokers starting with those at Barplats/Eastplats mine and Hernic Ferrochrome mines* that all workers employed under labour brokers be employed by Barplats/Eastplats and Hernic Ferrochrome mines permanently with all the benefits.