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Labour Pains

On Special Assignment this Monday at 21:00

Halfway through Workers’ Month, Special Assignment focuses on labour issues and examines the role that trade unions and their federations should be playing to further workers’ struggles.

Thabo Rampyapedi, a qualified engineer, was dismissed for misconduct at Transnet. His charges came after he complained about racism in the organisation’s Freight Rail division. Over a ten year period, about 50 black engineers and technicians resigned, allegedly due to racism. Thabo’s complaints resulted in an investigation into racism. His witnesses were among the pool of former employees who resigned because of alleged racism. The report concluded that there was no evidence of racism. Thabo disputed the findings and was later charged for incitement and bringing the company’s name into disrepute, he was dismissed.  

Hlengiwe Madladla was employed by Bidvest Protea Coin Security as a security guard at an Impala refinery in Springs. A work accident led to her inhaling toxic fumes. As a result, she has developed asthma but the company doctor denied this and said there was nothing wrong with her. Special Assignment arranged for independent tests to be conducted on her at the National Occupational Health Institute. The test results were at odds with those done through the workplace.

Two other Bidvest security guards were subjected to polygraph tests, the results of which were used to dismiss them without the correct legal procedure being followed.

We speak to union federation leaders about why unions have been weakened over the years, are fraught with allegations of corruption and whether the loss of focus on shop-floor issues in favour of politics and wrangling for power can be attributed to a loss of members.

Watch ‘Labour’ Pains, produced by Busisiwe Ntuli, on Special Assignment. Mondays at 21:00, SABC3.

For more information contact Special Assignment on 011 714 5419

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