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OCGAWU statement on the Labour Court ruling today on the award of the CCMA reinstating 1300 dismissed workers.


The proceedings of the Labour Court in Port Elizabeth today reflect the plight of workers everywhere in the world: Multinational companies with huge resources waging battle against the working class who have access to little. The dismissed workers decided not to oppose the application to temporarily set aside the reinstatement award but also did not consent to the order. Workers filed an affidavit setting out reasons why the workers should be allowed to return to work by the 5th Feb 2001. The affidavit spelt out that workers would suffer more prejudice than the company by their non-return to work by that day. In fact the speedy return to work would be beneficial to the company due the high rate of scraps that were still being produced. The dismissed workers have between them over 20 000 years of service. Photos of the scrap were attached as part of the record.

VWSA workers that are affected by this Labour Court ruling will meet on Sunday 4th Feb 2001 at 10am at the Thanduxolo School , Kwa-Nobuhle to discuss the implementation of the ruling and the way forward on the review process. Workers are considering now  launching a cross review and feel very confident of the prospects of success on substantial and procedural grounds. This may mean that company may have to reinstate the workers and pay backpay from 3 Feb 2000.In their papers, after a one year period, the VWSA bosses are prepared to intervene with all financial institutions to hold off on evictions and attachments, pending the outcome of the review process. Also they have made it plain that should they lose the review process , they will be liable for backpay to the 5th Feb. Workers have asked for their intervention on furniture and clothing shops, medical and education arrears. We await the reply of the company in this regard. Thus far only Standard bank have committed themselves and we await their urgent response in this regard as well.

In the papers VWSA threatened to withdraw export orders. We wish to remind them of the huge export subsidies that they are getting and that their actions are completely against specific ILO conventions on the conduct of multinationals that specifically prohibit such threats.

Workers are angered at the review in that they were looking forward to comply with the CCMA ruling. Despite attempts by the Union and its legal representative to set up meetings with management on the return to work, they failed to meet us. The implications of the review are very serious indeed and has implications for the broader working class. What the VWSA management wants to do is limit the discretion of arbitrators to reinstate workers, they want to tie arbitrators down to financial settlements. This will have a massive impact on the worker leaders and indeed the floodgates of dismissals may well be further opened! OCGAWU calls on all worker organisations and unions to join hands to fight this case, which can only be regarded as seriously undermining workers' rights.

We challenge Cosatu to make a public statement on the issue and to support the workers with fundraising in that regard. We note the role played by the SACP, and their deafening silence on the order for reinstatement. With a self-proclaimed 'vanguard' like this, who needs enemies.

We call on all workers and supporters, nationally and internationally, to come forward and pledge solidarity. Let us not allow then to change the law to make dismissals easier. Now is the time for working class independence and workers' unity in action.


issued by Local Secretary
OCGAWU, 1st Floor NBS Building, Caledon Str, UItenhage.
ph/fax: 041 9220309

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