num downs tools at teba

LABOUR federation Cosatu's member unions have declared "war" on stubborn employers - and are demanding better salaries and working conditions for their members.

Members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) - Cosatu's largest affiliate representing those in the mining, construction and energy sectors - downed tools yesterday in Johannesburg at mining servicescompany Teba.

More than 300 workers marched to Teba's offices to hand in a memorandum of demands, which include a wage hike of 12,5percent and 3percent service increment for each year of service completed - plus a R5500 once-off payment for workers with 10 years of service or more.

Ironically, the company is chaired by NUM's former president James Motlatsi.

In other labour action:

lToday marks the third day of strike action by NUM at Idwala Lime operations, situated at Daniëlskuil in Northern Cape;

lEmbattled parastatal Eskom will today receive a list of demands from unhappy employees at its offices in Klerksdorp; and,

lMembers of the SA Municipal Workers Union are to hand over a list of demands today to the East Rand Water Care Company.

Tseliso Lesibe, NUM's chief negotiator at Teba, said the company remained steadfast on a 6percent wage offer.

"We have run out of ideas. The only idea we now have is for full-blown strike action that starts today (Monday)," he said.

Graham Herbert, the managing director of Teba, said the company would report back to the union "as soon as possible".

"We would also like to rectify the union's loss of trust in Teba and to assure them that we aren't abusing Mr Motlatsi's name when dealing with them."

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration proposed a middle ground of a 9percent wage settlement but later issued NUM with a certificate of non-resolution "after the company refused to budge".

The strike action at Idwala in Northern Cape by NUM members is over the non-recognition of the union in the bargaining unit - despite it representing more than60percent of the workforce.

Botshelo Lebelo, NUM's regional organiser in Kimberley, said: "We have decided to go the strike route after prolonged talks with Idwala Lime. They (the employers) have clearly opted for a confrontational approach."

Lebelo said the strike action was "indefinite" and would not end "unless the company comes to the party".

And as if Eskom's problems were not enough - ahead of its expected announcement of tariff increases later this month and its management squabbles - its management will today receive a memorandum of demands in Klerksdorp from NUM members.