Johannesburg - Cash-in-transit workers have reached a strike-ending agreement outside the Road Freight Employers' Association (RFEA) bargaining council, their union negotiator said on Monday.
"The Marikana issue has set a precedent whereby employees negotiate with the company," Motor Transport Workers' Union (MTWU) national negotiator Solomon Mothibedi said.
He was referring to a strike at Lonmin platinum's Marikana mine, where a breakaway core of rock drillers rejected representation by the powerful National Union of Mineworkers in the usual bargaining forum.
Six weeks later and after 46 people were killed, a settlement outside the usual bargaining structures was reached.
Mothibedi said the MTWU negotiators and the RFEA had nothing to do with the agreement for the 4 870 cash-in-transit workers who were on strike, most of whom belonged to the MTWU.
"It was made outside the bargaining forum, directly between companies, and shop stewards trusted by their employees," Mothibedi said.
"You have got employees who respected their union. An agreement was signed by shop stewards, it was accepted and they have gone back to work," he said.
The agreement was reached with Coin and with G4S, he said. Comment was not immediately available from the companies.
Mothibedi explained that shop stewards contacted MTWU leadership last week and said they had worked out that it would take them two-and-a-half years to recover from the financial impact of being on strike, on their basic salary of R8 000.
They informed MTWU leadership that they were committed to the union, but felt things were "going nowhere" after the strike began last Monday and an RFEA offer was rejected in the bargaining council.
The RFEA had offered 8.5% next March, then another 0.5% in March 2014. Workers demanded 12%.
"They told us, respectfully, let us enter a debate. Can we achieve this?" continued Mothibedi.
"We said as we are part of negotiating, we can't be party to your agreement because it undermines collective bargaining, exactly like Marikana."
Mothibedi said: "We did recuse ourselves professionally. We said 'talk to your employer, we are not part of that agreement'."
He said their "big brother", the SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union, and the other unions involved in the negotiations were aware of this development.
Satawu called the deal one made by "drunkards".
In terms of the agreement, CIT workers will receive an increase of 9% from March 1, 2013, then the same again on March 1, 2014.
If negotiations at the bargaining council produce a higher percentage increase, the employer-employee agreement will be adjusted in line with that.
In the meantime, cash-in-transit workers are back at their posts.
MTWU spokesperson Dirk White said: "MTWU never made an agreement with anybody. It is between the company and the employees which the MTWU is not a party to.
"Not one of our signatures is on that paper. We are still busy with negotiations. The strike is still on."
Meanwhile, the RFEA would return to the Labour Court on Monday to finalise other elements of an interdict it applied for on Friday to quell violence associated with the strike.
RFEA spokesperson Magretia Brown-Engelbrecht said the first aspect of the interdict was granted on Friday.
This was to make it compulsory to get a permit from authorities for a public gathering and to have picketing rules in place, following incidents of stonings and setting trucks alight last week.
On Monday these issues would be dealt with further through an application to have the strike suspended because of the violence. The application was expected to be postponed to give parties more time to prepare.
She said the issue at the Labour Court was not the strike as such, which was legal in terms of the Labour Relations Act.
"We are not saying people can't strike. We are saying leave the public alone and those who want to work. Violence and intimidation can't be part of the process."
The MTWU belonged to independent Federated Unions of SA. The main union at the Marikana strike, Num, belonged to the ANC-aligned Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu).
Further talks were expected on Wednesday.
Workers obtained a permit to gather at Beyers Naude Square in Johannesburg on Monday for feedback.
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