Sugar workers stop strike to go slow

Workers from South Africa’s largest sugar producer, Transvaal Suiker Beperk (TSB) in Mpumalanga, resumed work on Tuesday following a violent five-day workers’ strike over outstanding performance bonuses.

The strike, which saw production at TSB’s Malalane and Komati mills come to a halt, was led by the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) from June 16.

While the workers returned to work following a court order on Tuesday, they decided to implement a go-slow.

“We have ordered our workers to resume work because TSB got a court order that demanded we take the matter to arbitration,” said Fawu spokesperson Ronny Tsabetse. He said the union did not tell workers to engage in the go-slow, but that the workers had done so on their own.

Tsabetse said the union was unhappy about unpaid bonuses dating back to 2007.

“We know we have worked well in 2010 but instead of TSB paying us at the end of April this year, they told us that the 2010 performance was poor and that we were not going to get our bonuses.”

TSB spokesperson Vusi Khoza said the matter was taken to the CCMA, which issued a non-resolution certificate saying that it was unable to resolve the matter.

Khoza said due to the concerns the workers raised with the company, R1000 was paid into each worker’s account.

However Tsabetse said 2011’s performance bonuses were estimated at R5000 per employee. During the protests workers burnt about 12ha of sugarcane fields, stopped trucks and halted mill operations. – AENS

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