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Angry union leaders disrupt PE national minimum wage briefing session

Feb 9, 2018
Angry union leaders disrupt PE national minimum wage briefing session

A Department of Labour briefing session to inform trade unions/shop stewards on the implementation of the national minimum wage (NMW) and amendments to labour laws was on Friday brought to a sudden halt in Port Elizabeth by union representatives.

The Department of Labour was scheduled at Boardwalk Casino, Beach Road Summerstrand to inform trade unions/shop stewards on the implementation of the NMW and amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), the Labour Relations Act (LRA), the coming into effect of the Accord on Collective Bargaining and Industrial Action and the Code of Good Practice on Collective Bargaining, Industrial Action and Picketing.

"The disruption was caused by members of SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa)," said Department spokesperson, Teboho Thejane.

"Department of Labour Chief Director of Collective Bargaining, Thembinkosi Mkalipi had just taken a podium to address the workers when he was disrupted by a regional official from Saftu who raised his hand and told Mkalipi that he wanted to make a point.

"The Saftu official accused the Department of not respecting the poor by holding public hearings in Summerstrand. He said the Federation’s members were staying in townships such as Zwide, Motherwell and wanted to have their voices heard."

Despite Mkalipi’s pleas to be allowed to continue with the presentation, he was told in no uncertain terms that the presentation would not proceed.

Mkalipi further explained that the choice of a venue was not of his doing, but that business at Government was regulated through procurement policy that automatically chooses a supplier(s) on the database system.

“By hosting the public hearing here, this is a show of extravagance that there is money available. We do not want this venue to be utilised because our tax monies are used. We have warned you several times about taking these meetings to town. You must take responsibility for your carelessness. You are pompous and arrogant,” said the unnamed Saftu official.

The Department of Labour has been having worker engagement/briefing sessions since last 9 November. The national briefing session started in Johannesburg. These have also been held in Pretoria, Cape Town, George, Pietermaritzburg, Richards Bay, Durban, Tzaneen, Polokwane, Mbombela, Emalahleni, Klerksdorp, Rustenburg, Bloemfontein, Welkom, Umtata and East London. 

The last leg of briefing sessions will be held in Northern Cape in Upington on 15 and in Kimberley on 16 February.  

The briefing sessions on NMW and amendments to labour laws are held from 10h00 to 13h00.