Distributors strike hit newspapers

DELIVERY workers at Allied Publishing are in the middle of a dispute with their employer, resulting in many major newspapers not reaching the streets and shops.

"The dispute is over workers not getting paid for overtime worked. Instead the company proposed to give a worker a day off for overtime work," said Media Workers Association of South Africa (Mwasa) Ernest Dlamini.

He said Allied Publishing was also looking at restructuring and franchising of depots in Pretoria.

The workers, fearing that this may affect their job security, have demanded detailed information on the restructuring.

"Workers are also upset about new collection and distribution timetables that their employer says will reduce expenses but this is putting strain on our workers," said Dlamini.

The dispute was taken to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration on April 3 but consensus could not be reached.

On Tuesday the workers embarked on a strike that saw no papers being delivered. The strike continued yesterday.

Meanwhile, Allied Publishing was late last night trying to obtain a court interdict to stop the strike.

The company argued that the industrial action was not protected.

Managing director Leon Haasbroek said the issues at hand were "overtime and the abuse thereof".

The strike delayed and in some cases obstructed the distribution of Avusa and Independent Newspapers publications in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Haasbroek said although contingency measures were in place, "newspapers would be arriving much later than usual" in most areas.

Allied Publishing distributes Sowetan, Sunday World, Business Day, The Financial Mail, Sunday Times, The Times, The Star, Pretoria News and Isolezwe.