By: Collen T Ndobo
The South African Communist Party (SACP) in the Free State has cautioned industries in Sasolburg, Free State to desist from coercing workers and unduly cutting their hard-earned salaries, under their so called “voluntary salary sacrifices” procedure.
The communist party has also warned and implored Omnia Company in the province to cease their “carrot and stick” tactic of enticing workers to take retirement whilst at the same time initiating a Section 189 targeting the workers for retrenchments.
According to Provincial Secretary, Bheki Stofile, section 189 process of the Labour Relations Act which permits employers to dismiss employees for operational requirements must come to an end.
“The global pandemic occasioned by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak is not a ticket for owners of the industry to fire workers,” he said.
“Before Covid-19, workers toiled under exploitative conditions and bosses consistently extracted surplus value out of the workers in productive activities and smiled all the way to the banks, without any share to the workers,” Stofile added.
The SACP interacted with workers and union leaders, the parties have learned that almost all companies in the industrial complex have varyingly moved to undertake salary cuts, forced some workers to take leave, sacrificed pension contributions, enforced reduced workdays and encouraged early retirements.
Stofile added that employers are forcing workers to share and shoulder the economic difficulties in a manner that maintains profitability for employers while kicking workers out their gates.
“We are living in a capitalist land and workers are treated as a sacrificial lamb. These companies are insensitive, acting as if the pandemic has not affected the socio-economic conditions of the workers,” he continued.
According to Stofile, some companies have decided already that workers will get no salary increases, let alone bonuses. He further mentioned that these actions amount to an unrestrained and outright assault against the workers and that they cannot be tolerated.
The SACP called on union leaders across spectrum, to be at the forefront, engaging and working with workers across all industries, to confront this dire situation.
In a statement, the communist party said that, without concerted worker efforts, the capitalists will – in line with the greed – continue to squeeze the workers more and more. “We are ready to fight against these injustices. It would be dereliction of our political and revolutionary duty to remain locked down when the class whose interests the SACP represents is being locked out,” it said.
The SACP in the Free State pleaded with union leaders to consolidate workers unity and unapologetically take up the economic assault and daily shop floor struggles of workers to the doorsteps of the bosses, during these times of Covid-19.
The party also called on all industries in the Sasolburg industrial cluster to provide and replenish the necessary personal protective equipment for workers against Covid-19.