Guards let go despite Labour Court win

By Dominic Adriaanse Time of article published Jan 17, 2017

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AFTER successfully overturning an interdict at the Labour Court, 143 guards working for Securitas SA have been dismissed after an internal disciplinary process.

The charges against them related to protests and shutdown action at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) last year, where they worked.

Last week the workers won their case as the court ruled, the authority lay with the university not the outsourced company, said General Industries Workers Union of SA (Giwusa) representative Michael Helu.

“Their reason for awarding of the interdict was not properly substantiated by the company’s legal counsel. This did not mean their internal processes could not be continued,” said Helu.

He said no members were involved in the shutdowns and could also not report for work during the protests.

“When they were told by seniors to report to their training facilities in Maitland, they queried where they would be deployed, and there was an altercation. They were accused of holding these seniors hostage. We approached the university to intervene or mediate, but they refused.”

Helu said the union would approach the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and believes internal disciplinary hearings were an attempt by contractors to act against workers involved in the fight to end outsourcing.

Securitas’s corporate governance director, Mark Sangster, said the application for an interdict was after four managers were held against their will at the university.

“The urgent interdict was not granted but the court ruled we were free to proceed with our own disciplinary process. The staff members also faced charges of absence from work without permission and assault and robbery of a supervisor,” said Sangster.

He said none of the charges was related to the protests, but to the staff’s absence from the university without company permission.

“We requested them to return to work and also offered to redeploy them to another site, if necessary. They did not return to work, nor did they respond to our offer of redeployment. We, therefore, believe we had no alternative but to proceed with the charges of absenteeism.”

Sangster said the firm had yet to receive any communication with regards to an appeal of the decision or any further legal action taken by the dismissed staff members.

UWC #FeesMustFall movement member Nangamso Bomvana condemned the dismissals by Securitas, calling the disciplinary process biased and illegal.

“In this bogus hearing, charges were mischievously replaced from those originally defeated in court which alleged absconding to manufactured charges, now of hostage-taking.

"These dismissals means that our black parents, many the sole breadwinners, might see their children being expelled from schools because they are unable to afford registration fees,” said Bomvana.

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