Roy Cokayne

A dispute between a group of salaried employees at Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) over an alleged unilateral change to the vehicle scheme in their remuneration packages remains unresolved.

The 193 employees last month took MBSA to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

They alleged MBSA had unilaterally and without consultation changed their conditions of employment by scrapping the company car benefit and replacing it with a lease vehicle scheme.

They claimed that the lease vehicle scheme benefits were not equivalent to those they received in the company car plan and that MBSA had met them only after it had taken a decision to implement the new scheme and did not want to recognise a committee that had been set up to represent the disaffected employees.

The group applied to the CCMA to stop MBSA from unilaterally implementing the new car scheme, to get MBSA to recognise the committee established to represent them and to meaningfully discuss with this committee the positive and negative aspects of moving to the new scheme, which had a direct impact on their remuneration packages.

Thando Faku, the instructing attorney to advocate Patrick Sota, who was representing the employees at the CCMA, said on Friday that slight progress had been made through a CCMA-facilitated conciliation process.

This had resulted in an interim agreement that MBSA would not proceed with the implementation of the new scheme until the matter returned to the CCMA on June 25 and 26, he said.

Faku said the matter had not been finalised and that conciliation would continue pending its return to the CCMA.

Laura Mseme, a CCMA spokeswoman, confirmed on Friday that the MBSA case was still in progress and that it would resume next Wednesday and Thursday.

Jeanette Clark, the manager of group communications at MBSA, said last month that it had been necessary for MBSA to review its existing policies and change the format of this employee benefit to enhance flexibility and choice because of “far-reaching external changes impacting on the provision of company cars to staff”.

She said: “This has been done in a thorough and extensive consultation process with affected employees over a period of more than three months.”

Clark added at the time that MBSA would continue to interact on this topic with the disaffected employees only and that the company did not wish to comment further in the media about this issue.