Shutdown: labour issues
Management maintains that an existing side agreement prevents it from paying workers more.
Several labour issues have arisen during the current PetroSA shutdown, with locals claiming they are being overlooked by contractors and/or underpaid when they are employed.
It also seems as if the discontent is escalating.
On Wednesday, 3 October, about 300 workers from Siyakhona Scaffolding (Pty) Ltd downed tools and gathered at the KwaNonqaba Police Station in a peaceful protest.
Siyakhona Scaffolding has a longstanding contract with PetroSA to supply and erect scaffolding.
For purposes of the shutdown, management representatives said, additional workers were taken on. Management maintains that an existing side agreement prevents it from paying workers more.
Workers, on the other hand, are of the opinion that the side agreement merely matched scaffold workers with any other general worker salary scale, such as anyone who mops floors or washes dishes, without any cognisance of the harsh conditions and requirements set for the semi-skilled to skilled labour involved in scaffolding.
Workers demand that their wages should be augmented by at least 2.3% to 7%. An increase of 2.3%, the least the workers are willing to settle for, translates to a mere R5
Management of Siyakhona Scaffolding met with the workers, but according to the workers, their demands were not met. They will continue to strike.
Do not exclude locals
Last week Thursday, 27 September, the Icosa provincial leader, local councillor Dawid Kamfer, met with upset locals at the offices of a contractor that organises employment for the shutdown.
He also spoke to representatives of the contractors to facilitate the increased employment of local workers.
Workers claim that people flock to Mossel Bay in the hope of finding employment during the shutdown.
This, they say, results in socio-economic problems for the area as informal settlements mushroom without access to municipal services. The demand for formal housing and municipal services escalates, while all along locals are being overlooked.
The manner in which the demands for municipal services escalate is adding to undue tension between communities and even violence.
'We'll stop the shutdown'
Councillor Kamfer said if all else fails despite their efforts to mediate, Icosa will be left with no alternative but to stop the shutdown, as it apparently has done in the past.
"Contractors pay lip service to agreements that local people be employed. Many of the job seekers are well qualified, even through training conducted by PetroSA.
"For many of the job opportunities no special qualifications are necessary. There is no need to appoint a cleaner all the way from Johannesburg, yet our people are overlooked.
"Mossel Bay's people cannot go without work while people from outside the area benefit from shutdown jobs.
"Icosa supports the local workforce and will stop the shutdown if our demands that Mossel Bay people benefit from job opportunities are not met," Councillor Kamfer insisted.
Picket on Tuesday
This followed a picket on Tuesday, 25 September by supporters of the Independent Workers' Advice Centre on Louis Fourie Road in Asla Park.
The peaceful and legal picketing was organised by Faizel Porter, the founder and manager of the Independent Workers' Advice Centre in support of "workers who are adversely affected in tender contract irregularities at PetroSA involving Feedem Pitseng".
Porter said workers, especially stewards working for the catering company Feedem Pitseng at the PetroSA FA Platform, had their income slashed unilaterally, and despite all efforts were not able to have the matter settled amicably.
The picket lasted for approximately two hours.
Some workers say their job requires skill and qualifications and their wages should be adjusted accordingly. INSET: Workers contracted by Siyakhona Scaffolding (Pty) Ltd are demanding a marginal increase in their wages due to the PetroSA shutdown that commenced this month.
The provincial leader of Icosa, Councillor Dawid Kamfer (fifth from left), addressed unemployed people who claimed Mossel Bay residents were excluded from jobs in the current PetroSA shutdown.
Workers gathered peacefully as they waited for their managers to address them.