The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today backed its affiliate, the Media Workers' Association of South Africa (MWASA), in its ongoing national strike against job cuts at CEB Maintenance Africa.
30 people were dismissed with immediate effect last Thursday, a day after workers began a strike against the proposed lay-offs.
MWASA General Secretary, Tuwani Gumani, said that throughout the statutory 60 days of consultation over possible job cuts, CEB Maintenance-Africa, a subsidiary of the parastatal telecommunications company, TELKOM, has failed to submit written responses to formal information queries and to proposals made by MWASA including alternatives to shedding jobs.
He also accused the company of failing to respond properly to union concerns. He claimed that when information was provided by CEB, it was invariably always very late, woefully inadequate, misleading and accompanied by an apology.
The union also hit out at the company's insistence on including Botswana and Namibian operations in the redundancy consultations ignoring MWASA protests that these operations fall outside the jurisdiction of the South African labour laws.
There is an unresolved matter before the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration relating to complaints of long-standing large scale unfair labour practices within CEB across its national operations. Workers believe that the mass dismissals are a direct retaliation effort against the exercise of the constitutional right to fair labour practices.
"Employers have the responsibility to plan, to manage and to organise their operations but workers must be invited into meaningful consultations because dismissals for operational reasons are not as a result of any fault on the part of the workers," added Gumani.
Following the latest events, the IFJ has backed a letter sent yesterday by MWASA, together with labour organisation ICTU to the company's Human Resources Manager Sarah Lethale calling for "urgent meetings between parties within five days to defuse the situation."
In the letter, the signatories state that if such urgent meetings don't take place, they would apply to spread the strike to workers in Telkom, BCX, Ontime communications and Huawei. They added that they would also approach SAFTU trade union federation "to partake in this workers' bloodbath and subsequently request other affiliated unions to apply for secondary strike."
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: "We welcome and support the actions taken by our affiliate in South Africa in the interest of members working for CEB Maintenance Africa. We urge the company's leadership to meet our colleagues to ensure that their working rights are fully respected in accordance with the country's Labour Relations Act (LRA)."