PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa might soon find himself embroiled in a Labour Court battle as Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) is set to take him to task for making employees redundant at his private farm in Mpumalanga Province.
The Sowetan newspaper had reported on Wednesday that last month Ramaphosa drove to his Ntabanyoni farm in Badplaas, Mpumalanga, to personally tell 22 of his 46 workers that they were being retrenched.
It was reported that he took the decision after his livestock was attacked by foot-and-mouth disease and bad trading conditions.
One of the retrenched employees Simangele Ziqubu said he had worked for Ramaphosa for years.
‘How can Mr Ramaphosa fire us before Christmas?
‘I have to buy food and things for my kids for Christmas. I don’t know what I’m going to do now,’ said Ziqubu.
Fawu’s Mpumalanga secretary Ernest Mmako said his union would soon visit the affected workers on a fact-finding mission.
‘We will mount a battle against that retrenchment and should it be that he has already implemented that decision we will be left with no other option but to approach the dispute resolution institutions, your CCMA and ultimately the Labour Court,’ said Mmako.
EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee said retrenchment was flying in the face of Ramaphosa’s promise to create six million jobs.
‘We are talking about the new dawn that promised to create six million jobs in the next five years,’ said Gardee sarcastically.
He said there was nothing stopping the private sector from laying off workers if the state president did it.
‘If the president cannot re-skill people and re-employ them somewhere, what does it say about the country?
‘It is very insensitive of him to have a holiday when workers have nothing on their table at home,’ he said.
Cosatu called on Ramaphosa to find alternative employment for the retrenched workers rather than subjecting them to poverty.
Federation spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said as the president of the country, Ramaphosa had to take responsibility for government resolutions to save jobs.
‘We hope that this (retrenchment) is not the end and the measures need to be explored, and he should work with these people to find them alternative.
‘We say employers have to be compassionate when it comes to retrenchment, and he has to take responsibility by working with these people and making sure that he explore other measures,’ he said.
Pamla said the federation was opposed to retrenchment irrespective of who was behind it.
‘It is regrettable that this has happened on a farm that is owned by the president.
‘We reiterate our position that all measures have to be explored despite the fact that there was a foot-and-mouth disease and all of that,’ said Pamla.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko did not respond to questions that were sent to her.
- The Newcastle Municipality has fired 223 employees following their protest against the non-payment of overtime early last month.
The mayor was struck in the face during the protest.
On Friday, the municipality took the decision to fire those believed to have been involved following internal disciplinary hearings – and the number of casualties could increase.
However, the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) yesterday said it would start the legal process to fight for its members. Provincial secretary Jaycee Ncanana said they were obliged to act legally as the municipality had fired their members ‘legally’.
‘We received the news and we expected this because all the signs were there.
‘They permitted our members to work overtime and only told them on payday that there was no money to pay them.
‘When our members demanded answers, they were suspended, and then fired.
‘We are not taking this lying down; we will fight to the bitter end, but we have to do it within the labour regulations. The mayor has been bragging about this high number of employees who were pushed out of their jobs,’ Ncanana said.
Early last month, general workers, including security, fire department officers, traffic personnel and six Samwu shop stewards, were suspended on full pay after an altercation that resulted in Mayor Ntuthuko Mahlaba being struck in the face with a brick.
The Daily News reported at the time that workers received suspension notices on their cellphones following the incident. The city cited financial constraints for the non-payment, but the union questioned how the municipality could source private security services instead of paying the overtime due to its employees.
Ncanana questioned how the workers could have been permitted to work overtime when there were professionals dealing with the municipal finances who could have reported its state to those in charge to avoid this situation.
EFF Amajuba chairperson Sbusiso Sizani said the decision to fire the workers was taken on Friday.
‘This was a unilateral decision by the ANC councillors. Ever since this mayor took over, everything is falling apart.
‘He is riding this municipality roughshod. He is selfish, arrogant and he doesn’t care about the next person. Anyone who challenges him gets purged.
‘These workers were protesting for what is rightfully theirs, so that should not result in them losing their jobs,’ Sizani said.
DA councillor Bessie Cronje said that overtime had been abused at the municipality over the years.
‘How many families will suffer now because of the lack of empathy? This issue has been handled badly,’ Cronje said.
Municipal spokesperson Dr Dumisani Thabethe said the matter was handled by municipal manager Muzi Mayisela, who told the Daily News he was driving and would call back once he got to his destination. However, he failed to return the call and his phone was turned off when called again. He did not respond to voice messages. The mayor could not be reached for comment.
- The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) in Gauteng has noted with outrage the Afriforum letter sent to the Premier of Gauteng Province, the Honourable David Makhura dated 20 November 2019. This grouping seeks to drag us into its racist fight against the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Education and Youth Development, the Honourable Panyaza Lesufi.
The fact that Afriforum calls us ‘South African Democratic Teachers Association’ exposes its laughable utter ignorance. SADTU is a product of genuine struggles of the majority of the people to liberate us from the clutches of apartheid and colonialism which was engineered by the predecessors of Afriforum.
‘We are not apologetic about being the major stakeholder in education. We draw our existence from the Constitution and our membership constitutes the majority of teachers and education workers who believe that our union is the legitimate tool to pursue education transformation in our country.
‘We fully support the education transformation interventions spearheaded by our MEC and HOD. The deployment of modern resources and the building of proper and adequately resourced schools in townships is highly commendable. These resources were previously enjoyed by the white minority.
‘We support the MEC’s assault on racism as this advances the will of the people as espoused in the Constitution. We are fully behind him as he breaks racist barriers created by the Afriforum constituency.’