Wednesday, 28 March 2007





Members from all the campuses in the Johannesburg area met yesterday evening to hear reports from CWU officials and leadership and plans for the way forward. The highlights of the meeting included a report on the picket and industrial action and an explanation of what is happening with the interdict and the legal process (both questions have been addressed previously in this blog: here and here ).

An evaluation of the positives and negatives from the action listed as positives:

1) The increase in wages, maternity leave and participation in BEE granted the day the strike was announced

2) The solidarity that the Vodacom workers earned from COSATU, SACP, YCL and international unions.

3) The breaking of the illusion that Vodacom is an invincible giant and that mobile phone employees are happy and have no concerns.

4) Workers in other mobile companies have contacted CWU to ask for representation on account of the strike.

5) Other mobile companies are also approaching CWU to express their welcoming of the union, in contrast to Vodacom

6) We estimate that membership has grew by 50% during the actions, from approximately 800 to nearly 1 200.

7) The strike opened a channel for tripartite dialogue which is occurring at the top levels of Vodacom, CWU and the Department of Communications.

The negatives identified were the dismissal of Comrade Portia Sithole and disciplinary hearings against Comrade Aubrey and a few other leaders. As we have seen from the membership forms that CWU has continued to receive, far from scaring the workers these apparent retaliations for the strike have helped unite us more firmly than ever.

After tripartite meetings between the top officials CWU, Vodacom and the Department of Communications have agreed in principle to an independent audit to establish the level of CWU membership at Vodacom. There are still several points that have not been agreed to by both parties. It is not clear that Vodacom would recognise and negotiate with CWU even if CWU had 30% or more members in the company.

Regardless of the audit, workers at Vodacom united through CWU will continue to organise to improve working conditions. We will not wait idly for the court ruling but instead will continue to recruit and sensitize. Most importantly, we have submitted a list of demands for improvement from the company, which was read at the meeting (see below).

Also, it was announced that CWU will begin to issue membership cards to Vodacom workers in the near future.


The following demands were submitted to the company yesterday, March 27th. The union has also proposed a negotiating team including 12 workers from each campus of Vodacom. We are awaiting for the company's reply. In the following weeks we will be preparing for the negotiations by setting up communication structures to insure that all members are aware and can give feedback on this process.

We do not expect the company to be willing to meet and discuss this, given their previous attitude to negotiation with trade unions. We will have to continue to struggle to get a place at the negotiation table. We will have to continue to struggle to make sure that working conditions are the best that the company can afford. We will continue to struggle because dialogue makes sense and will help build a stronger company that can better serve the people of South Africa.

1. Salary increase:

  • That the company increases the salaries of individual employees by minimum 18% (eighteen percent) in response to increases in company productivity and inflation trends in the country;
  • That the company rectifies the discrepancies created on salary structure to guarantee a transparent structure that promotes performance.

2. Medical Aid:

  • That the company pay 100% medical aid contributions for all company employees.

3. Working hours:

  • That the normal working hours be reduced to 40 (forty hours) a week without any loss of pay to harmonize the professional and personal lives of employees.

4. Shift system:

  • That the parties negotiate on a shift system with the view of implementing an acceptable shift system, again to harmonize the professional and personal needs of employees.

5. Bursary:

  • That the company provides bursaries to the children and dependants of the company employees;

6. Housing subsidy:

  • That the company implements a negotiated housing subsidy for the benefit of all company employees.

7. Transport allowance:

  • That the company provides reliable, safe and accessible means of transport to all shift workers.

8. Service allowance:

  • That the company pays a service allowance based on years of service of each and every individual employee with the company.

9. Casualisation:

  • That the company does away with the employment of casuals, by employing these workers on permanent basis.


We implore the company to jointly with CWU, establish an HIV/AIDS Coordinating Committee to mainly deal with:

- Awareness of the pandemic

- Preventative measures

- Development of a national program, etc.

Who was that small Vodacom worker at out picket?

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