JOHANNESBURG - Axed Federation of Unions of SA general secretary Dennis George yesterday spoke out against his dismissal from the country's second-biggest labour federation, urging affiliates to take up AYO Technology Solutions shares despite negative media publicity.
George, who was dismissed with immediate effect on Friday following findings of serious misconduct, said he had spent his entire life as a man of integrity.
This as a R4.3billion investment in AYO has come under scrutiny at an inquiry into irregularities at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).
“I have fought against corruption, and I continue to do so. I am shocked that such disinformation and deliberate misrepresentation of my position in the facilitation of AYO Technology shares to workers is being misconstrued,” he said.
George, who has led the union for more than two decades, allegedly purchased AYO shares at a significantly reduced rate.
His company, Difeme Holdings, was believed to have received pre-listing AYO shares at R1.50 while the PIC paid R43 a share.
George said he had engaged Fedusa affiliates such as the Public Servants’ Association and the National Union of Leather Workers in numerous meetings and correspondence since the allocation of the 11million Difeme shares to them.
“My motivation was simply that these shares would assist Fedusa affiliates in building worker participation in the economy, that the affiliates would be financially strengthened and that workers would have representation on the board of the largest black information and communication technology company in the country, AYO,” said George.
George was placed on suspension in February, and the federation hired external investigators to probe allegations that Fedusa owned shares in AYO.
On Friday, Fedusa said it unanimously decided to dismiss George after recommendations made by an independent chairperson on findings of serious misconduct.
The federation said he entered into arrangements with AYO without its knowledge. It was not aware that George housed AYO shares in his company, Difeme.
“I reject with contempt the insinuation that I intended to benefit personally from these shares. These shares only become tradeable after the five-year lock-in period,” George said.
He added that his role was to facilitate and ensure that they were given this opportunity.
“I hope that they take up these shares so that they can benefit in the interest of workers from the growth of the share price and the dividends.
"It would be sad if, due to the negative media, which is defamatory against AYO, it is used to influence these affiliates not to take up these shares at the cost of workers not benefiting from shares,” he said.