Strike halts construction of dam

The construction of De Hoop Dam in the Sekhukhune area has stalled as a result of a strike by workers on site. The workers are demanding the dismissal of the supervisor at the site’s batch plant, where they work with the mixing of concrete.

At the centre of the row are allegations that the supervisor was ill-treating them.

The supervisor, who is known to Sowetan, had allegedly been using the k-word to the workers.

The employees said they took the matter up with the project manager, who allegedly failed to make an intervention. A representative of the workers, Matsebe Sekhukhune, said they then decided to embark on a strike after the failure by the project manager to act.

“In one instance, a pregnant woman asked the supervisor to give her a light job. He responded by saying he would not do so because he was not the one who impregnated her,” said Sekhukhune.

He also claimed the supervisor was a law unto himself as he dismissed workers “willy-nilly”.

“Between March and now, more than 23 workers have been unfairly dismissed for raising their concerns with the supervisor,” he added.

Sekhukhune said the project manager would not dismiss the supervisor “because they are relatives”.

“Instead, the project manager told us to lodge a grievance so that procedures could be followed – but still nothing came of it.”

Sekhukhune said that on September 5 all 1180 workers on site resolved to embark on a strike to force management to intervene. But instead they were given letters of termination of their employment, saying the strike was illegal.

He said they were now protesting at the site’s entrance after management had obtained a court interdict against them.

Johannes Segafa, the project’s communications officer, said there were still engagements between management and the labour forum to get the impasse resolved.

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