President's dismissal was sad but expected – LIMUSA

Disciplinary hearing was a kangaroo court, says union

LIMUSA statement on the dismissal of its President by his employer

23 September 2015

On the 22nd of September 2015 the Liberated MetalWorkers Union of South Africa woke up to sad but expected news about the dismissal of its President, comrade Sboniso Mdletshe by his employer, ABB. This comes after his employer tried by all means necessary to ensure that he is removed and isolated from workers. The company alleged that he committed gross misconduct by submitting union membership forms to ABB instead of submitting them to a supplier company and further alleged that he encouraged workers from these supplier companies to join LIMUSA and therefore cannot be trusted by the company (ABB).

The reasons for his suspension given to us were far from the actual motive why he was hurriedly hauled before a disciplinary hearing for an “offense” that would under normal circumstances, not warrant a disciplinary hearing let alone a dismissal.

We are convinced that his only “crime” was to belong to a union that is not in the pockets of the employer, a militant union whose only purpose of existence is to alleviate the working conditions of metal workers who are at the mercy of immoral labour brokers as it was the case at ABB. Our president had in the days preceding his suspension, fought against these labour brokers. In the disciplinary hearing, the employer charged him with promising employment to workers who were under labour brokers. This is far from the truth. Comrade Mdletshe had explained to these workers that according to the recently amended Labour Relations Act, labour brokers must exit the employment contact after 3 months. This is precisely what employers all over refuse to adhere to. They want to rotate workers in 3 months contracts with no hope of ever being absorbed permanently. In this regard, we will declare a dispute at the bargaining council about these 8 employees who according to the new amendments are supposed to be permanent. We will also report several other non-compliance matters to the Department of Labour so that an urgent investigation against ABB is instituted.

In the same breath, we are convinced that the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing together with the Industrial Relations Manager, Moses Manganyi have allowed themselves to be henchmen of ABB in the destruction of the hard won workers right to belong to a union of their choice. The kangaroo court where President Mdletshe appeared before had already decided his fate before his appearance. His dismissal letter was written and signed the day Metal workers elected him to lead the union.

MetalWorkers have vowed to fight to the end to see that justice is done. We will go to the highest court in the land if needs be to defend the right of workers to belong to their union of choice. Metal workers will not roll over when their leader is targeted and victimized.

Statement issued by Mawonga Madolo, deputy general secretary, LIMUSA, 23 September 2015