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Johannesburg - Trade union Solidarity launched an urgent application against engineering company Actom on Monday for unlawfully locking its non-striking members out of their workplace.

“Actom’s employees have been denied access to the workplace since July 1 and are being denied their salaries,” said spokesman Anton van der Bijl.

He said the urgent application for an interdict was lodged at the Labour Court in Johannesburg on Monday.

The matter would be heard on Thursday.

In terms of the Labour Relations Act, an employer could not simply suspend its employees’ service contracts without both parties agreeing to it, Van der Bijl said.

The trade union would therefore argue that Actom was not acting in accordance with the Act.

Actom was not immediately available for comment.

Van der Bijl said the union's members had not been paid for weeks.

“Many of our members don't have food in the house and cannot meet their financial obligations, like paying their children’s school fees.

“One of our members can no longer supply his disabled child's specialised needs,” Van der Bijl said.

He would request that the court declare the lockout illegal and rule that its members should be given access to the workplace.

The court would also be requested to rule that Solidarity's members be reimbursed any funds lost as a result of the lockout, and that members must be given back the mandatory leave they were forced to take.

Meanwhile, over 200,000 National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) members in the metal and engineering sector downed tools on July 1, demanding a salary increase of 12 percent, dropped from their pre-strike demand of 15 percent.

They also demanded a R1000 housing allowance, and a total ban on labour brokers.

The union announced on July 13 that it had lowered its wage demand to 10 percent. - Sapa