The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has threatened strike action against Transnet, unless a meeting is convened between the union, Transnet board members and Transport Minister Blade Nzimande.
On Friday morning, Numsa said it had been granted a certificate of non-resolution to strike at the parastatal, after it allegedly refused to recognise the union.
“It basically means that we can now issue a 48-hour notice to strike. However we want a meeting with the Transnet board and the transport minister on the issues we have raised,” Numsa acting spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola told City Press.
But Transnet spokesperson Molatwane Likhethe said the company’s recognition agreement required trade unions seeking organisational and bargaining rights within Transnet to have a 25% membership within the bargaining unit.
“Numsa does not yet meet Transnet’s recognition thresholds and is not entitled to organisational rights,” Likhethe said.
Numsa’s current membership is 1163, which is 2.4% of the total bargaining unit of 48 864.
Numsa alleged higher membership but refused to submit to a verification of their members in the current organisational rights dispute, Likhethe added.
Numsa also alleged that Transnet had been deducting two union fees, instead of one.
“They deduct trade union fees and agency fees. Agency fees are paid by non-unionised workers. It should only be deducted from non-union members, however, some of our members suffer from being debited twice instead of once,” Hlubi-Majola said.
But Likhethe maintained that the allegations on the debit orders or deductions were incorrect.
“It is not Transnet’s practice to debit employees for agency shop and union subscription fees.”
Likhethe said the issue was discussed in a meeting with Numsa in July 2017 and the union was advised to inform its members to come forward with such anomalies so that it could be investigated and corrected.
“None such information has been forthcoming.”
The union will not yet engage in strike action, however, pending engagement from its members.
“We must also get a mandate from our members to strike. All of that takes time. I can’t tell you at this time when we will go on strike,” Hlubi Majola told City Press.
Numsa also alleged that Transnet suspended more than 100 Numsa members in Bloemfontein “for daring to wear Numsa T-shirts”.
“This is a case which we are fighting and it will be heard by the Labour court on June 25. The management at Transnet is shamelessly attacking workers by violating their right to freedom of association and undermining their right to free speech,” Numsa said today.
Transnet’s policies at the time only permitted the wearing of corporate attire for all employees, said Likhethe
“About 50 Numsa members were in breach of the policy and were disciplined accordingly. Transnet therefore denies that it arbitrarily disciplined the union’s members.”