The Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union (CEPPWAWU), welcome Level 3, COVID-19 as pronounced by President Ramaphosa, and this marks a return to operations of most economic activities.
CEPPWAWU is disgusted and horrified how the employers have taken the advantage of COVID-19 to maim and salvage on worker’s leaves, short-pay (or use of unpaid leave), while some have approached the Union with Section 189 of LRA (retrenchments) and suspected COVID-19 infected employees made to work.
We demand that all employers pay workers in full and make use of all avenues provided by government including UIF, and government economic and social stimulus as provided for companies.
All these measures were provided by the State to help companies to mitigate for lost salaries and for companies to stay afloat.
We want to remind and jog the memory of these companies bosses, that they are represented at Nedlac and further the State President addressed the nation on the 21 April 2020, and said amongst the following things;
“We will therefore be introducing a R200 billion loan guarantee scheme in partnership with the major banks, the National Treasury and the South African Reserve bank. This will assist enterprises with operational costs, such as salaries, rent and the payment of suppliers.” The State President further said, “In addition to existing tax relief measures, we will also be introducing a 4-month holiday for companies’ skills development levy contributions, fast-tracking VAT refunds and a 3-month delay for filing and first payment of carbon tax. To assist a greater number of businesses, the previous turnover threshold for tax deferrals is being increased to R100 million a year, and the proportion of PAYE refunds and a 3-month deferred will be increased to 35 percent.”
Therefore, as a Union we are calling for all our members and shopstewards to engage with their respective management and demand to see how far their companies have made use of the these measures.
If all fails, the shopstewards must escalate the matter to the Locals, Regions and to National Union for interventions.
Those companies that insist on Section 189, of LRA. The union demands as a precondition Temporary Employment Laying-off Skills Scheme to be part of retrenchment consultations.
It is therefore unthinkable that these companies elected to hide behind the COVID-19 when the State has provided adequate relief, both for salaries and to avoid retrenchments.
The Union has also been alerted that some companies have during the lockdown period, used casual labour (while their own workforce was at home), and others claimed from the UIF fraudulently even though workers were working during level 4 and 5, but use it for themselves, and or to pay casual labour.
The Union is investigating and collating all this information.
Already Mpact, is allegedly one of the companies being investigated, which we have passed through the information to the relevant authorities for a decision.
The Union is also appalled by employers who have suspected COVID-19 positive employees but instead of choosing to assist these vulnerable employees, have chosen profit over the lives of employees and put all employees in harms’ way.
These employers are not bordered by flattening the curve, or reporting to the relevant authorities, but seek to hide and conceal this information. Most, if not all these employers have no COVID-19 safety plan linked to Health and Safety Act of the company, and if they do, there is no Safety Committee.
CEPPWAWU, demands that all the companies with suspected COVID-19 positive employees must take necessary steps including isolation, contact tracing, testing and closing down for deep cleaning. All workers affected must be tested, and effective screening of all employees following the Health guidelines and as published.
Companies like Aspen in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape and Levtrade International/Banshiled in Germiston-Gauteng are some of the companies the National union is demanding them to do the right thing.
The Union is further calling the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) to do unannounced inspections.
COVID-19 has exposed the DEL lack of inspections. The sale of expired food and none compliance to labour regulations, including Health and Safety is some of COVID-19 negatives that the department can turn these into opportunity by employing unemployed graduates and to augment the existing overwhelmed workforce.
Employers who are not clear on what to do, can contact the Union and or the Department of Employment and Labour including on how to be reimbursed.
We restate and support the call by the worker’s giant federation-COSATU, that severance package be increased and employers must take care of workers, relax leave policies, make all necessary arrangements including a safe working condition.
Lastly, as the levels of lockdown are gradually being relaxed to level 3 and so forth, this does not mean we must relax our health and safety regulations’ standards. But this is an opportunity for all of us to keep the momentum and adhere to all regulations as provided by government.
‘CEPPWAWU Wish All Muslims, Eid Mubarak’
Issued by CEPPWAWU National Office, 25 May 2020
Contact: 010 206 6600
General Secretary, Cde Welile Nolingo, 063 691 3112
Deputy General Secretary, Cde Musa Bhengu, 063 691 3113