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PE Cerebos Workers Make Their Payment Demands Heard

About 70 workers of salt producer Cerebos downed tools and demanded higher wages on Wednesday last week.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) led workers outside its plant in Zone 7, Coega IDZ in PE, clad in their overalls and some were carrying sticks.

They demanded an increase of R5 per hour, back pay, long service awards, as well as school and housing allowances.

Shop steward at Cerebos, Phakamile Hani, told JHR that wage negotiations with the company had started in July this year and have not yet come to an agreement over workers’ demands.

“First we demanded a 10% salary increase but the employer said no. We then demanded 9% and even went down to 6%. After they said no, we demanded a R5 salary increase per hour,” said Hani.

Another striking shop steward Sakhumzi Mkunqwana said, “When the country went into lockdown last year, we were at work, earning double our salaries working from Monday to Sunday.”

Mkunqwana told JHR that they had asked for a five-year-long service allowance of R5,000 across the board but the employer only agreed to pay R1,500 for a decade of service.

In a letter responding to workers, Human Resource Manager at Cerebos, Xolile Mzimba, said that the company would concede to a R3 increase per hour.

“The company agrees to provide all current information regarding annual leave, family responsibility leave and study leave,” the letter stated.

The company also warned workers to adhere to picketing rules which included that they may only be picketing during designated hours.

“Any industrial action prior to 10:30am (until 6pm) will be unprotected and will be subjected to disciplinary action…Intimidation will not be tolerated. Any intimidation will be handled as per disciplinary code,” said Mzimba.

Eventually, workers told JHR that the strike ended peacefully with employers agreeing to meet their demands after a lengthy boardroom meeting.

“We agreed to an increase of R3 per worker across the board, five-year-long service of R500 per worker as from the date they were employed, back pay as from 1 July up until the end of our strike, which ended on 21 October,” said Mkunqwana

By Thamsanqa Mbovane

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