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Shopfloor:CCMA guarantees freedom of expression

21 November 2006, Posted in News

CCMA guarantees freedom of expressionLate last year Vusi Sibeko, a worker at Royal Ascot Superspar, was dismissed after he wrote an article critical of working conditions at his store. The article was published in a community newspaper.However the CCMA overturned the dismissal. The CCMA noted that employees have the right to freedom of expression, even when such expression involves criticising their employers. In its judgment on the matter, the CCMA argued that the workplace ‘was the place where workers aspired towards democracy although it was never granted to them [under apartheid]. Why now, would the freedom of expression in the workplace be denied after democracy has been obtained.’ — Freedom of Expression InstituteTo reflect the spirit of this judgment we carry five pieces from workers that are critical of their workplaces.

Counselling, final written warning and dismissalNicholas MahlanguI’m working for a large copper manufacturing company in Springs. We are faced with difficult and sickening problems to deal with.The production manager changed the working system in the company thinking the products will reach out to customers in time. With all the changes made, we have lost so many customers because of delays caused by poor planning. We are now falling into a trap of being charged with poor time keeping, poor work performance and excessive absenteeism. To cover himself for the company’s loss, he says we don’t work.Our biggest problem is the company’s disciplinary procedure and code of conduct. They are biased and outdated. In most cases the verdicts against white men are warnings that are fair, but on blacks, there are dismissals or final written warnings. The man who is behind these is our production manger who is also a chairman on the cases.If you attend a case and get fired by the production manager, how will you make an appeal and win the case if the guy who fired you will still hold the position of being a chairman at your appeal?This is evidence that our disciplinary procedure and code of conduct are old fashioned. The man and the rest of his crew are just a mess. They fail to consider the fact that it’s us who pop in some cash in their pockets to feed their families.

What is HR?Nicholas MahlanguPlease will someone out there tell me what an HR manager is? Is an HR manager responsible for maintaining peace in the company or is he there to be on management’s side and be against the workforce?Our HR manager charged a man working at the dispatch section for sleeping in the workplace. In that particular department there’s a lady, a superintendent who should have charged the man if he was sleeping on duty but she didn’t, meaning there was no such thing.As a matter of fact, this man had accidentally been injured on duty at press 5 and lost his hand. The company took him to the hospital to try and get his hand back but the efforts were hopeless. Then surprisingly a few months later the man got back to work and he was transferred from his department to another department to do a lighter job.They shouldn’t have let him work at first. He should have been compensated and been given permanent disability but they didn’t. A few months later after he had attended treatments they had to cut off his hand at the hospital because it started to rot. They realised after some time that the guy is no longer useful to them. In order for them not to compensate him, he should get fired. This is classified as a true personal vendetta.

VW in focusKaya ka YokoVW management is busy strangling us by subjecting our comrades in PQ240/1 to short time. It is fair for them to decide so because apparently it is because we tempted them by ensuring that they remain as conquerors in the market and now they believe that we can sweat more profits by even reducing hours that we work in order to survive. The more VW gets profits, the more the workers are regarded as useless. During this time of hardship there are individuals who always assist management by disturbing our office bearers whilst our office bearers’ minds are applied fully to the case of the high death rate of comrades in VW, employers not being grateful, being exploitative and adopting autocracy as their leadership style. Those individuals assist management by victimising workers knowing full well that this will disturb them by shifting the focus on to them.

——————-Unhappy employeeI spend a lot of time in this companyAnd I spend a lot of unhappy timeI work under a life sentenceOne mistake leads me to a warning lane.I don’t doubt about dismissalBecause it happens now and thenIt is a matter of disciplinary actionWith no excuse.

How many years can I work like this?Not because I earned dollars.Not because I’m fully stupidBut because I’m a disrespected employeeI feel stress everydayBecause I don’t know my mistake for today.

My wife tries to make meForget about what happens in this place.But when I wake up in the morningThere is one thing on my mindWhat will happen today

Tell me, how can I feel happy?If I catch the Lotto like Lizzy maybe It is a solutionDo you have any solution?Come on my broer,Let’s share an idea!

Nkosinathi Ngwane


To get a high positionYou have to climb Maluti MountainCross the river Nile and Kalahari DesertAnd talk the language of angels

Oh! What a life

We are getting wages that can only take us to and from work to do their production

Oh! What a life

We cannot pay our monthly services and fees for the education of our children

Oh! What a life

Loan sharks keep our bank cards because we live on loans

For managers to get training, it takes a phone callFor workers to get training, we take to the streets

Oh! What a life

Managers are driving fancy carsHoutlies can’t afford to but an old one.

Oh! What a lifeOh! What a lifeOh! What a life

By Ford SA shop stewards