Thursday, November 22, 2007

SA building workers settle for bonus

WHILE I was posting up that report about South African building workers yesterday, it seems the building workers had already got a result. What worked it seems was the threat of solidarity action across the stadia sites. Now employers fear this could be just a start, before these workers make their own claims.

Here, courtesy of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), is the news:

1.1 ‘Bonuses’ settle Durban stadium strike

David Christianson, 20 November 2007, Business Day

NUM hails R6000 payments but industry calls them a disguised pay increase and fears similar demands elsewhere

KwaZulu-Natal Correspondent

DURBAN — Workers have agreed to end their 12-day strike at Moses Mabhida Stadium, but the agreement to provide them with two project bonuses over and above their wages could open the way for similar demands by staff at other 2010 venues.

In terms of the agreement, workers employed by the primary contractors — a joint venture between Group Five, WBHO and Pandev — would be paid a project bonus in two phases.

On December 14, the industry’s last working day of the year, workers will be paid R2000. A second bonus of R4000 will be paid on May 31, the day on which construction of the main structure is due to be completed.

The agreement stated that “there will be no further industrial action at the Durban stadium project relating to any of the issues raised during this dispute and those covered by the industry main agreement or sectoral determinations”.

National Union of Mineworker (NUM) spokesman for KwaZulu-Natal Bonginkosi Mncwabe said there was no reason to strike again in the period ending May 31 “unless disaster happens”.

Despite the fact that the NUM “did not achieve 100% of what we wanted”, he said the union was pleased with the outcome.

“We settled for a project bonus that works out at R500 a month less than we wanted”, he said.

The NUM originally demanded a project bonus of R1500 a month, while the amount agreed on worked out at about R1000 a month.

Mncwabe said both sides had “learnt a great deal about each other during the strike” and had “devised a mechanism for dealing with issues like this in fut
The two other substantive issues resolved were the election of an additional health and safety officer, to be paid for by the joint venture, and an agreement that “the joint venture will assist with the enforcement of sectoral determination and/or industry agreements that apply to subcontractors working on the project”.

However, South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors manpower director Muller Uys said there was nothing in the agreement to stop workers at other 2010 stadiums going on strike to obtain similar bonuses.

Mncwabe agreed: “Our agreement does not deal with what is happening outside Moses Mabhida Stadium. If workers elsewhere want to take up issues, that is their baby.”

The contractors’ federation, which negotiates nationally on behalf of employers in the construction industry, reached a three-year agreement with the unions in the bargaining chamber in August last year. That agreement promised workers an 8% increase a year each year for three years.

“This is simply opportunistic behaviour on the part of the NUM”, said Uys. He said the project bonus was “a disguised wage increase”, and that the agreement was “outside the national agreemen
In a statement, the Group Five-WBHO-Pandev joint venture said that “the agreement applies to the Moses Mabhida Stadium only”.


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