EMPLOYERS' ASSOCIATION GETS SUPPORT FROM COURT AGAINST STRIKING WORKERS
In order to put an end to the unacceptable levels of intimidation, threats, violence and malicious damage to property, the National Employer's Association of South Africa (NEASA), the Plastics Converters Association (PCA) and twenty applicants were granted a temporary court order which stops striking workers and unions from victimizing or intimidating non-striking employees or causing damage to employer's property.
The impact of the court ruling is as follows:
- Strikers are not allowed within 60 metres of employer's premises, including all corners;
- They are prohibited from congregating at the applicants sites or plants and must be dispersed immediately;
- Any employee who breaks the 60 metre line will be charge in accordance with the applicant's disciplinary code upon their return and we expect that those in contempt of the Court order should be arrested by the SAPS.
Any damages caused to property or equipment from now on will be included in claims against the union. This will include the State if the SAPS fails to take the appropriate action.
"We regard this court ruling as a victory for the rights of employers," says Johan Pieterse, CEO of the Plastics Converters Association (PCA). "We strongly object to the complete and utter disregard for individual's rights and the rule of law. A line has been crossed here and we will not stand by idly as we watch our country slide into complete lawlessness. The reluctance of the SAPS to intervene or to protect the innocent is a major concern, as we do not need interdicts to ensure the SAPS protect and act in a way prescribed by law. The time has come for the entire Police Force to protect the citizens of South Africa and not to allow the protesting workers to commit criminal acts under the banner of a strike," Pieterse said.
"I am sitting at home contemplating my future in this country for the first time in the 50 years after I have just been chased off our factory premises by a bunch of thugs under the guise of NUMSA". Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of further attacks, a regional director of a producer of milk bottles and other dairy packaging is only one of many members of the PCA and NEASA sharing their stories about intimidation during the current industrial action.
"On Friday we were chased off site by a very aggressive mob which threatened to burn and destroy our premises if we did not shut down. This all happened while the police stood by and watched - in fact they even escorted the strikers 'spokesmen' onto our premises so they could deliver the threat," he said.
"Enough is enough," said Gerhard Papenfus, CEO of the NEASA. "We have stated repeatedly that we are supportive of workers right to strike, but we will never condone violence, intimidation and malicious damage caused to property or lives as part of this process".
This past week, NEASA's hotline has been inundated by phone calls and photographs that bear testimony of how incidents of violence and intimidation against visitors, suppliers and non-striking workers are taking place around the country.
"I now know in a very small measure how the Zimbabwe farmers must have felt as they watched the theft of their lifelong work. Now I know what it feels like to experience a police force which is unable or unwilling to enforce the laws of our country. What I don't know is how it must feel like to be one of my black colleagues who has received a personal call from a co-worker threatening his and his family's life if he dares come to work", another PCA member reported.
"Serious damages amounting to millions of Rands have already been caused to properties and sites around South Africa by individuals who have been identified as union office bearers. As responsible employer associations we are taking the lead by approaching the Court to protect the rights of their members, and it is the duty of other employer's associations to do the same", Papenfus and Pieterse said.
Statement issued by Gerhard Papenfus, NEASA CEO, and Johan Pieterse, Plastic Converters Association CEO, July 14 2011
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