SAFTU celebrates two victories at Imperial

The South African Federation of Trade Unions is celebrating a second great victory within 12 hours, with the announcement that Mark Lamberti has resigned as CEO of Imperial Holdings.

Last evening workers at Imperial Cargo, a subsidiary of Imperial Holdings, staged a sit-in to demand the reinstatement of 14 members of the Democratic Transport Logistics and Allied Workers Union (DETAWU) whom the company unlawfully suspended for taking part in the SAFTU-led strike and march to Parliament on 12 April.

Eventually, after the protesters read out Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act, the company conceded that the strike was protected under and workers could not therefore be disciplined for taking part. They agreed to reinstate the 14 workers unconditionally.

At the same time, the protesting workers demanded the resignation of Mark Lamberti as the company’s CEO. Early the next day he announced his resignation!

The reason for SAFTU’s call was the High Court finding in favour of an ex-employee, Adila Chowan, regarding a series of incidents which began in 2014, in particular when Lamberti referred to her demeaningly as “female employment-equity” in front of fellow managers, and said she would need as many as four more years to develop her leadership skills.

Lamberti has already resigned from the boards of both Business Leadership South Africa and Eskom, and now from his key position at Imperial.

SAFTU and DETAWU are proud to have played a part in Lambert’s downfall, which should send out a strong message to all employers that sexist and racist remarks about their employees will not be tolerated.

Two victories within less than a half a day are a sign of SAFTU’s growing influence and power.

The federation thanks DETAWU and its members at Imperial Cargo for not only successfully defending their members, but for helping to set the record straight for all workers – that a certificate issued by Nedlac under Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act protects all workers who join the strike, regardless of which union applied for the certificate.

It makes no difference which union they belong to or if they are not a member of any union. They are all covered by the certificate. The law forbids employers from threatening or suspending workers for taking part.

The Imperial workers’ reinstatement will encourage other workers to resist any employers who threaten employees not to join the general strike and marches on 25 April, against the poverty national minimum wage of R20 an hour and draconian labour bills which will make it impossible for workers to take strike action.

We appeal to all workers, members of all unions or non-members of any union, to hit the streets on Wednesday to protest against government’s attempts to keep them living in poverty and sabotaging their unions’ constitutional right to organise  strikes against intransigent employers. Workers never will be slaves!

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