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Sun obtains strike interdict

Dec 17 2009 08:52

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Johannesburg - Hotels and gaming group Sun International was on Wednesday granted an interim interdict by the Labour Court to prevent Saccawu and its members in the Western Cape from engaging in unlawful conduct during their protected strike action at GrandWest. This includes intimidation and assault.

On 2 December, Saccawu furnished 48 hours notice to embark on industrial action, including strike action, countrywide at Sun International properties, in relation to the wage dispute declared on 10 June 2009.

Sun International CE David Coutts-Trotter said the interdict had been applied for following 'disgraceful' behaviour on the part of Saccawu members, who had breached the principles of peaceful picketing, issued death threats to both GrandWest management members and members of the SAPS, and had damaged property including that of the SAPS.

A member of staff who elected not to participate in the strike was brutally assaulted by members of Saccawu. Substantial photographic and video evidence was supplied to the court in support of the application.

Coutts-Trotter said that disappointingly, security footage showed that the shop stewards were in fact the cause of much of the unlawful conduct instead of attempting to prevent it.

"We are particularly disgusted at the serious physical attack on one of our employees who elected not to participate in the strike. She was brutally assaulted and after the attack was left badly beaten with injuries to her face and back. She has identified her attackers and they are all striking workers at GrandWest. The leader of the assault was a stand-in full time shop steward.

"Saccawu not resolving the situation reported to them, despite assurances to the contrary, contributed significantly to the problem. We call on Saccawu to get their leadership to act with restraint."

In responding to a statement released by Saccawu today, Sun International said that it had in no way intimidated striking workers and arrests made were by the SAPS following illegal action on the part of Saccawu members.

On 10 December wage negotiations with Saccawu deadlocked. "This across-the-board increase we have offered would mean that with effect from 1 July 2009, the new minimum wage would be equal to a total cost of employment of R71 797 per annum.

Sun International's base rate for bargaining unit employees is already roughly double the average minimum wage in the retail and catering sector of the economy and compares very favourably with other major sectors. It will be extremely difficult to sustain the business with wage increases above the current wage offer of 8% across-the-board.

"The Union's strike notice demanded a 13% increase across the board and an increase in the night shift allowance from R2.30 to R7.00 per hour. Given our financial results in the midst of a very serious recession, this is simply unaffordable," the company said.

- I-Net Bridge

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