Cape Town - A total of 170 labourers have been sacked in an ongoing labour dispute between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and a construction company.
The decision by Good Hope Construction (GHC) comes after the workers – all represented by NUM – embarked on an illegal strike which allegedly resulted in damage to property and loss of income that GHC said amounted to approximately R15 million.
GHC axed the plasterers who faced a disciplinary hearing after NUM had initially been ordered to pay R300 000 to GHC for legal fees incurred during a court battle related to the strike.
Independent advocate Morné Aggenbach convened the disciplinary hearing and made his recommendation.
“I am of the view that the employees are guilty of having participated in unprotected strike action since April 20.
“They brought the employer’s name into disrepute, placed the employer’s business at risk and broke the employer-employee trust relationship irretrievably.
“As such, I recommend that it would be appropriate to summarily dismiss the 170 employees,” Aggenbach said.
Citing a violation of labour laws, mainly safety regulations, the 170 plasterers embarked on a strike on April 21.
The protesters targeted GHC sites in Macassar, Scottsdene, Philippi East and Delft, where property was damaged and work brought to a standstill for four weeks.
The strike has seen a construction worker killed, alleged kidnappings, a sjambok attack and malicious damage to property.
GHC owner Raziek Rajah said: “It is regrettable and unfortunate that GHC has had to dismiss the NUM members employed by GHC, but I must concur with the independent chairperson’s findings.
“GHC has decided to follow the chairperson’s recommendation to effect the dismissal. NUM and its members’ conduct is quite frankly unacceptable, irresponsible and should not be condoned.”
Rajah said he had also instructed GHC’s attorneys to proceed with a damages claim against NUM to the sum of R15 million for alleged damage to property and loss of income.
GHC attorney Sean Pienaar said: “Should NUM and its members engage in any further acts of violence, intimidation, reprisal, illegal marching to our client’s sites or offices, I have instruction to launch an application for contempt of court against NUM and its members, requesting that they be arrested and jaile for up to 90 days for ignoring a court order.”
NUM spokesperson Benson Ngqentsu said the recommendation and decision by GHC did not come as a surprise to the union.
“We anticipated this, but we will consult with our members and our attorneys, and then we will initiate a proper stance towards the decision they have taken,” he said.