By Thando Nondywana
The general secretary of the Private Sector Workers Trade Union (PSWTU) Mzobanzi Ndabana has slammed the Private Security Bargaining Council, labelling them as too divisive and working against the interests of the marginalised workers.
PSWTU and 14 other unions recently held a summit in Johannesburg where they deliberated on key challenges bedevilling the security sector.
The one-day summit brought together unions that have no seat in the private security sector bargaining council, who unanimously described some of the decisions taken by the council as unjust.
“I am hoping that today as these marginalized trade unions we will come with a resolution of challenging all the injustices that are currently happening in the sector,” Ndabana said.
The major concern highlighted during the conference included the bargaining council’s recent decision to revoke the implementation of premium allowance increase for security guards.
The controversial exemption granted to selected companies without due consultation and the general lack of compliance with regulations, set tongues wagging during the summit.
Ndabana lambasted the council for taking a resolution that has had an adverse effect on their members, without the courtesy of being informed at the very least.
“All the procedures were not followed. There is an exemption policy that we feel was not followed.
Only unions that have seats in the bargaining council were consulted while all other unions, whether we have members within these companies or not, were not.”
He said industry giants such as the Fidelity, G4S and Bidvest are some of the companies that have allegedly been granted the exemption against paying an 8% premium allowance increase, due to the economic impact of covid-19.
“If we were afforded an opportunity before the decision was taken, we were going to challenge it because we believe that these companies have the big financial muscle,” Ndabana said.
“Our members were working 24/7, while other sectors were closed during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. They can’t complain about funds because they were not affected, that’s why we feel that it’s unfair on the workers,” he added.
According to PSWTU, previous attempts to engage with the leadership at the bargaining council on recent developments have not yielded success.
“What we did was to write a letter to the CEO of the bargaining council, questioning the reasons behind the granting of exemptions but we did not receive any response on that,” Ndabana added.
He further clarified that they were not against collective bargaining, insisting all they wanted was that the council be open to everyone within the sector. He believes such a move would enable them to challenge the issues of non-compliance as well as the policies in the industry.
Allied Workers and Transport Union (AWTU) representative Stanley Netshishivhe condemned the use of the bargaining council as a means of deciding who gets a tender and who gets sidelined.
“Those employers and the trade unions that are in the bargaining council are telling the government which companies are not party to the bargaining council and therefore should or shouldn’t be given the tender.”
“Of course, we are small trade unions and we deal with small employers who are not party to the bargaining council but when they don’t get those tenders, we are also going to lose the membership,” Netshishivhe said.
In addition, he reiterated the call for an inclusive bargaining council, echoing sentiments expressed by other unions during the summit.
“The main purpose of the bargaining council was mainly to achieve the so-called transformation but as we sit here today-we can tell you that the industry is not transformed. We need a council that will include every stakeholder.”