South African company Videx bows to workers’ pressure

Videx, a mining products company, will withdraw the court application to stop the ongoing strike and has agreed to negotiate with workers

June 02, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Workers on strike at Videx plant. Photo: NUMSA

Workers employed at Videx Mining Products celebrated a victory as the company withdrew its application before the labor court to interdict their industrial action and has agreed to start negotiating with the union on Monday.

600 of the 800 workers employed at the company’s Wadeville plant in the city of Germiston have been on strike since May 15, demanding that the production targets be scrapped, after the company refused the workers any bonus for having met the targets.

Our courageous members at Videx have been on strike since the 15th of May, because they demanding an end to production targets. Today the backward employer withdraw the application to interdict the strike. He tried to undermine the strike and he was forced to withdraw. Because of NUMSA he failed to stop our members from exercising their democratic right to strike. The strike is LEGAL and it continues. Workers at Videx have been committed, dedicated and disciplined. They are heroes of the struggle!Umoya wami uyavuma!#NUMSALeads #TheSituationRightNow#ForTheLoveOfTheWorkingClass

Gepostet von NUMSA am Donnerstag, 30. Mai 2019

“It is our firm view that a worker should receive production bonus, or even profit bonus, if the company achieves its target. Achieving production target is impossible without workers being part of that process. It is immoral for companies to deny workers this bonus. It is as bad as theft,” National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), which represents the striking workers, said in a statement.

The company, which manufactures and supplies roof support systems and ventilation ducting for operations in mines, counts amongst its clients the mining giants such as Anglo Platinum, Sibanye Gold and Glencore.

The NUMSA statement pointed out, “The work our members do is critical in ensuring that mine workers are safe underground.. Workers put in extra effort, time and energy in meeting the daily targets, but instead of rewards, the management takes what is rightfully theirs in the form of their bonus, and enrich themselves, at the expense of the workers who are responsible for making profits.”

As per the rules of Metal & Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC), under whose jurisdiction this company falls, “companies are expected to give bonuses to workers [for meeting] the targets which are set”, Phakamile Hlubi-Majola, a spokesperson of NUMSA, told People’s Dispatch. “According to the industry agreement, these types of bonuses are negotiated at the plant level.”

However, NUMSA reported that the manager has refused to engage on the issue of bonuses and as such they reject the system of production targets, “The employer has no right to force workers to work harder, when he is going to deny them their hard earned bonus!”

After the striking workers showed no signs of yielding to the management, the company filed an application seeking an interdiction of the strike from the labour court. While the company tried to make the case that the strike was unlawful, it could not substantiate its argument before the court. On May 28, “when the judge asked them for the ‘heads of argument’, they didn’t even have [any],” Hlubi-Majola said.

By then, the two week strike had already taken a toll on the company’s production. Under pressure, and not being able to substantiate their argument before the court, the company withdrew its application from the court two days later.

Furthermore, after being advised by its legal team that the only way forward is to engage with the striking workers, the company has approached the union and sought to meet the workers’ representatives on Monday, June 3.

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