Workers at Robertson Winery take on employers again

Workers head to CCMA over housing allowance, bonuses, back pay

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Photo of sign to Robertson Winery
Robertson Winery management and workers are heading back to the CCMA. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Just 10 months after an agreement was signed by Robertson Winery, its workers and their union, the workers are heading back to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) over “outstanding demands” on Wednesday.

Negotiations between the Commercial, Stevedoring and Allied Workers’ Union (CSAAWU) and the company deadlocked after weeks, with the union accusing Robertson of not complying with agreements signed in November 2016 after a protracted strike. The company says it has complied with the agreement.

Earlier this year, the union expressed its unhappiness with Robertson Winery and accused the company of not keeping to the agreement.

In a deal reached after a 14-week strike which started on 24 August 2016, CSAAWU and the winery settled on a wage increase of R400 a month or 8%, backdated to 8 August 2016. They also agreed on bonuses, to be calculated using a 12-month pay cycle.

The agreement also stated that the annual bonus would be “calculated based on the average basic wage income earning for the period 6 July 2015 to 10 July 2016, payable on 25 November 2016”. But workers’ bonuses were reduced to take into account the months when they had not worked because of the strike.

CSAAWU deputy general secretary Karel Swart said in a statement on Tuesday the union wanted the CCMA to rule on the “misinterpreted” clauses defining the period for the backdated pay and annual bonuses.

“Another big issue that remains at Robertson Winery is the level of mistrust. There’s issues of how the company deals with discipline. The union considers much of the discipline to be very punitive and not assisting workers at all,” Swart said.

CSAAWU’s Trevor Christians told GroundUp at least ten “outstanding demands” had not yet been met.

These included:

  • Transport for workers;
  • A single “clock-in” system;
  • The extension of the R850 housing allowance to all workers;
  • Long service bonuses changed from 10 years of service at the company to five years;
  • A “monitoring committee to be set up with union representatives and management to monitor compliance with ethical standards.

At present, Christians said, workers were required to note the times they used the toilet during the day.

The company’s risk officer, Reinette Jordaan, told GroundUp that the company was committed to “build trust” with workers and the union. She said consensus had been reached on 13 of the 23 demands. She did not want to comment further ahead of Wednesday’s CCMA negotiations.

TOPICS:  Farming Labour

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