The South African Federation of Trade Unions sends a message of support and solidarity to the members of the General Industries Workers Unions of SA (GIWUSA) who are on strike at Life Health Care laundry, Adcock Ingram and Henkel SA.
It is a reflection of the parlous state of industrial relations in South Africa that workers in three companies at the same have been left with no alternative but to go on strike against intransigent employers.
The bosses at Life Health feel entitled to refuse to agree to increase wages to cover all the higher prices workers have to pay for goods and services.
Bidvest, the new majority owners of Adcock Ingram, has become more repressive and despotic than the previous management, unilaterally imposing a new inequitable disciplinary code which makes little provision for corrective discipline and a readiness to impose disproportionate and vindictive sanctions for minor violations of its rules.
As GIWUSA says: “We are living in a democratic country where citizens are respected in terms of their rights. The workplace cannot be an island of repression and despotism where workers’ rights are trammelled upon. Democracy and respect for rights must also be a feature of the workplace.”
Henkal SA have refused to take seriously workers’ justified demand for:
1 A moratorium on outsourcing
2 Severance Pay of 5 weeks for each year of service
3 Extension of scope of collective agreements
4 filling of vacant positions
The employer has been completely negative on all the demands, except the scope where they are prepared to make a small concession. But for the rest the company is unresponsive. They are waging a war of attrition with GIWUSA by outsourcing workers, retrenching others and by not filing vacancies. Henkel SA management want to maximise their profits at the expense of the health and life of workers.
Companies nationwide are using outsourcing as a means of cheapening labour and dividing workers. Their only imperative for outsourcing is to save costs by obtaining the same service that was previously done at much cheaper rates.
These disputes expose the ruthless intransigent of more and more bosses, but they also reveal the workers’ determination to resist and fight back. They have had enough, and are not prepared to be trampled on by these profiteering companies.
SAFTU congratulates the workers and the leadership and officials of GIWUSA, one of our newsiest affiliates, but one which is demonstrating in practice what a militant, worker-controlled union should be doing – leading from the front and refusing to lie down and surrender to domineering bosses.
SAFTU urges all its affiliates to issue statements and send messages of support to GIWUSA and prepare for solidarity action if requested, to make sure these workers win their fight.