President Cyril Ramaphosa might soon find himself embroiled in a Labour Court battle as Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) is set to take him to task for retrenching employees of his private farm in Mpumalanga Province.
Sowetan newspaper had reported on Wednesday that Ramaphosa had last month drove to his Ntabanyoni farm in Badplaas, Mpumalanga, to personally tell 22 of his 46 workers that they were being retrenched. It was reported that he took the decision after his livestock was attacked by foot-and-mouth disease and bad trading conditions.
One of the retrenched employees Simangele Ziqubu said he had worked for Ramaphosa for years. How can Mr Ramaphosa fire us before Christmas? I have to buy food and things for my kids for Christmas. I don’t know what I’m going to do now,” said Ziqubu. Fawu’s Mpumalanga secretary Ernest Mmako said his union would soon visit the affected workers on a fact-finding mission.
“We will mount a battle against that retrenchment and should it be that he has already implemented that decision we will be left with no other option but to approach the dispute resolution institutions, your CCMA and ultimately the Labour Court,” said Mmako. EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee said retrenchment was flying in the face of Ramaphosa’s promise to create six million jobs.
“We are talking about the new dawn that promised to create six million jobs in the next five years,” said Gardee sarcastically. He said there was nothing stopping the private sector from laying off workers if the state president did it.
“If the president cannot re-skill people and re-employ them somewhere, what does it say about the country? It is very insensitive of him to have a holiday when workers have nothing on their table at home,” he said.
Cosatu called on Ramaphosa to find alternative employment for the retrenched workers rather than subjecting them to poverty. Federation spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said as the president of the country, Ramaphosa had to take responsibility of government resolutions to save jobs. We hope that this (retrenchment) is not the end and the measures need to be explored, and he should work with these people to find them alternative.
“We say employers have to be compassionate when it comes to retrenchment, and he has to take responsibility by working with these people and making sure that he explore other measures,” he said. Pamla said the federation was opposed to retrenchment irrespective of who was behind it.
“It is regrettable that this has happened on a farm that is owned by the president. We reiterate our position that all measures have to be explored despite the fact that there was a foot-and-mouth disease and all of that,” said Pamla. Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko did not respond to questions that were sent to her.
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