The Citizen 30 Aril 2019

They will make their way to headquarters to stand in solidarity with their fellow union members.

In the wake of yesterday’s go-slow at Tiso Blackstar’s Parktown headquarters comes the news that striking staffers will be joined by staffers from Cell C, as they are affiliated to the same union.

The announcement was made by Information Communication Technology Union (ICTU) president Moeketse Lepheana on Sunday.

Police have been called to Tiso Blackstar where CellC employees are protesting in soliderity of Tiso employees who are demanding better salaries and working conditions.

According to Tech Financials, ICTU represents close to 1,300 members at Cell C who engaged in a strike at the company’s head office regarding non-payment of bonuses related to 2017/18 performance. Strike action was recently reignited by Cell C’s failure to pay the 2017/18 bonuses.

Lepheana said: “The employees of Cell C have decided in their caucus to say they understand the plight of the journalists in the country. They will go and picket at the Tiso Blackstar office as they are still on strike and will do so until Tiso Blackstar listens to the demand of the journalists.”

Lepheana was speaking to the Citizen during a brief intermission of a meeting he was attending with Blue Label Telecoms, which owns a 45% stake in Cell C.

The premise of the meeting, which was also attended by representatives of the striking Cell C staffers, was to find out whether the employees who have affected a total withdrawal of labour would return to work on Thursday.

Lepheana reiterated that the workers indicated that they were willing to sacrifice their lunch and take half-day leave to stand with Tiso Blackstar employees should they decide to return to work at Cell C on Thursday.

Tiso Blackstar was served with a notice to strike last Friday and the strike will see employees affiliated to ICTU down tools over a dispute related to salaries and bonuses which had been going on since March.

Tiso Blackstar owns newspapers such as Business Day, Sunday Times, and Sowetan. Its Parktown head office is also the venue for the commission of inquiry into state capture led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

The union said in a statement: “The company has pleaded poverty and disregarded the fact that workers suffer immense financial pressures due [to] Tiso Blackstar’s failure to compensate them fairly. The first strike, which is set for the 6 March 2019, was averted after the employer pleaded with ICTU to afford them an opportunity to negotiate.

“ICTU leadership also made efforts to meet and seek intervention from the office of the state capture commission to avoid the possible disruption of this important national process. This was followed by a series of engagements and meetings which ended on the 18th April 2019.

“During this last meeting, it became very clear that the company was not willing to accede to the demands of workers. Workers have been patient for far too long and have resolved to punish the employer’s arrogance by taking their issues to the streets for public sympathy.”

The strike action will culminate in a full-blown strike on May 6. Workers will then march and deliver a memorandum at the company’s Parktown offices on May 7.

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