Amathole Forestry fixed-term contracts workers face retrenchment after 20 years The trade union UASA, representing more than 50% of the workers at Amatola Forestry, embarked on strike action at the Stutterheim and Hogsback plants yesterday, following a deadlock with the employer.
UASA has three demands on the table:
- That employees who have been on fixed-term contracts, some of them for up to 20 years, be appointed to permanent positions. These contracts are renewed every year from 10 January to 5 December;
- That salary discrepancies among workers be addressed and removed; and
- That the workers be awarded a salary adjustment of 16%.
After the union tabled the demands, the employer, firstly, verbally informed fixed-term workers with 12 months and less service that their contracts were going to be terminated. Following this, they informed the rest of the fixed-term contract workers that 128 of them will be retrenched. We view this as direct intimidation of the employer to dissuade employees from belonging to the union.
"In a further attempt to try and intimidate its workers, Amathole management has employed contract workers who have taken over the duties of our members," says Stephen Rathbone, the local operations manager of UASA.
Following the high-handed approach of the employer, we are considering several options, one of which is to approach the Labour Court to intervene in the dispute. Meanwhile, the strike will continue.