Capacity struggle

Friday 14 December 2007

Capacity Workers Support Committee


The Anti-privatization Forum ( APF), and its affiliates, together with other organizations have formed a Capacity Workers Support Committee to galvanize solidarity for their struggle against the vicious exploitation and oppression at the hands of a labour broker.

We are calling on all progressive organizations/movements and individuals to rallying behind the Capacity Outsourcing Workers in their struggle against the exploitation and oppression at the hands of Capacity Outsourcing, a labour brokering company used by Independent Newspaper (Pty) Ltd situated at Sauer Street, Johannesburg.

We are calling on the public to assist us in exposing what is happening at Independent Newspaper.

The Capacity Workers Support Committee is continuing with its mass action against Capacity Outsourcing.

• On 9th November, pickets are going to be held at Independent Newspaper ( Sauer Street ) and Johnnic Offices ( Rosebank) • On 16th November, mass march to the offices of Independent Newspaper, demanding that the managing director of TNPC and Dr Van Zyl Slabbert to receive the memorandum * If we don’t get a positive response another day of mass action has been identify in November.

We are calling on organizations and individuals to support this mass action and to do the following:

• Stop buying the Sunday Times, Business Day, Star and other newspaper in the stable of Independent Newspapers. Terminate subscriptions of these newspapers • Write articles to these newspaper expressing outrage and demanding a stop to the violation of workers rights • Write e-mails, fax or telephone Dr Van Zyl Slabbert expressing outrage and demanding that he stops the violation of workers rights : e-mail: [email protected], fax : 07 011 889-0638, tel : 07 11 889-0633 • Target any public appearance of Dr Van Zyl Slabbert, exposing his company • Write e-mails to the Managing Director of TNPC, Bernard Briggs, expressing outrage : e-mail - [email protected]

• Write e-mails to directors of Johnnic: e-mail [email protected] • Engage in any other public support.


Since the introduction of Capacity Outsourcing in 2004 by The National Printing Company (TNPC), a company owned by Independent Newspaper, workers have been subjected to extreme forms of exploitation and violation of their rights.

In 2004, Independent Newspaper through TNPC retrenched more than 250 permanent workers and only to be re-employed by labour brokers. The first labour broker was, Capital Outsourcing. This labour broker was kicked out and later replaced by another, called Capacity Outsourcing. The only reason why TNPC first retrenched workers and then re-employed them under the labour broker was to cheapen the labour of workers and thereby drive down the wages and other benefits of the workers. This is precisely what happened.

Under Independent Newspaper workers used to earn R 1500-00 per week and had a medical aid and a retirement fund. Now under the labour broker, Capacity Outsourcing, workers earn between R750-R800 per week and have neither medical aid nor a retirement fund. Workers wages were thus reduced by almost 100% and in fact they are earning in 2007 the wages that they received in 1982.

Besides these exploitative conditions, workers are also subjected to constant ill-treatment at the hands of supervisors of both Independent Newspaper and Capacity Outsourcing

Workers forced to resign from GIWUSA

Recently Capacity Outsourcing has embarked upon a campaign of intimidation, harassment and victimization of members of the General Industries Workers Union of SA. (GIWUSA). The company is attempting to get rid of the union because it has consistently over the years been fighting against the exploitation of workers.

Capacity Outsourcing is a company that violates agreements and workers’ rights. On the 5th September 2007, GIWUSA signed an agreement with Capacity Outsourcing that states the non-core must be employed on the basis of date of service. The management basically ignored this agreement, called workers individually to sign for a performance based market street roster and told them that if they wanted to be selected they must resign from GIWUSA. Workers are told that they need to resign from GIWUSA otherwise there is no place for them at Independent Newspaper The management did this behind the back of the Union and implemented a performance based selection criteria that is premised on the subjective opinions of the supervisors. The agreement also states that four female comrades must be made part of the core staff on day-shift. Again the management ignored this agreement and sent these comrades home regularly.

Third Suspension of Shop Steward: Suppression of Freedom of Expression

Capacity Outsourcing has suspended the shop steward, Bongani Ntuli and his alleged crime is the unauthorized entry of the Union official. The Union official attended a meeting with union members. This suspension comes after notices for the meeting were posted on the notice boards, a letter was written to the management about the meeting and the security guard granted access to the premises. And this is the normal procedure followed for all previous union meetings. And this is the third time that this particular shop steward has been targeted and suspended by Capacity Outsourcing management.

The company has added a fourth charge to the shop steward. This is the charge: “You are accused of deliberately distributing derogatory information about the company in that: During your demonstrations and/or picketing at Johnnic Communications on 11 October 2007, you were seen handing out pamphlets containing information that is derogatory and offensive to the good name of the company. Your conduct is unacceptable as it constitutes breach of good faith upon which your employment at Capacity is based.”

First, Capacity Outsourcing undermines workers’ right to belong to a trade union of their choice by forcing them to resign from GIWUSA.Now, Capacity Outsourcing has gone a step further to suppress the freedom of expression of its employees. This fourth charge is nothing but an attempt to silence workers. Capacity Outsourcing wants to stop workers from speaking the truth. Also it seems that the company is of the view that if they remove the shop steward from the shopfloor then the problems of workers will somehow evaporate. The thinking of management seems to be one of removing the "agitators" and then the rest will be intimidated and problems solved.

DR Frederick Van Zyl Slabbert Heads Capacity Outsourcing

At the head of Capacity Outsourcing stands Dr Frederick van Zyl Slabbert, an erstwhile democrat and liberal. Capacity Outsourcing is wholly owned by the Adcorp Holdings Group and the executive chairperson of Adcorp Holdings is Dr Frederick Van Zyl Slabbert, the former leader of the forerunner of the DA, the Progressive Federal Party (PFP). Adcorp Holdings specializes in labour broking.

The other day Van Zyl Slabbert formed part of the independent panel assessing whether parliament and its parliamentary portfolio committees are carrying out their democratic mandate. What right and credentials does Van Zyl Slabbert have to ensure that the constitution is observed in relation to parliament but the company which he is heading is violating basic constitutional rights?

Independent Newspaper Benefits from the Labour Broker

It is evident that Independent Newspaper has employed the labour broker, Capacity Outsourcing, to undercut the wages and benefits of workers and thereby obtain cheap labour. Independent Newspaper is also using the labour broker to control workers through a workplace regime of ill-treatment and job insecurity so that maximum production can be extracted from workers. The Union has found that the labour broker is impotent to address workers issues because they are under the control and direction of Independent Newspaper. No issue or problem can be addressed by the labour broker without the consent of Independent Newspaper.

In reality, though workers are legally contracted to Capacity they are very much still under the control, supervision and direction of Independent Newspaper. The latter is hiding behind the labour broker. These practices are similar to many other companies where labour brokers are used by employers. In fact, in South Africa, employers are using labour brokers to create a workplace environment where job insecurity is rived and wages are reminiscent of that under apartheid.

In 2005, a year or two after TNPC retrenched its permanent staff and used the service of labour brokers like Capacity Outsourcing, Independent Newspaper (SA) became ‘the star performer of the INM Group ( Independent News and Media Plc)’. It delivered a staggering “34,8 % increase in operating profit to Euro 41.8 million”.It also boasted that operating margins at Independent News and Media (SA) increased to 18,8%. This substantial increase is attributed to “ a combination of a strong double digit improvement in total revenues and the benefits of strong cost containment initiatives. These cost containment involved the massive retrenchment of permanent staff and the use of exploitative labour broker, Capacity Outsourcing.

Johnnic also benefits

TNPC is a partnership jointly owns by Johnnic and Independent Newspapers. This makes Johnnic an accomplice in the violation of workers’ basic rights. Every Saturday, these workers print, pack and wrap the Sunday Times but their basic rights of freedom to join a trade union of their choice, freedom of expression and right to decent work are being violated.

Expose the hypocrisy!!

We are outraged that Independent Newspaper and Johnnic are continuing to tolerate and encourage the violation of basic constitutional rights of workers by its labour broker. TNPC through its newspapers, the Star, Sunday Times, Business Day and others, cries foul whenever restrictions are placed on journalists’ right to publish critical articles. But in its own back-yard it tolerates these unconstitutional acts. This duplicity and hypocrisy must be exposed.

We are calling on the public to assist us in exposing what is happening at Independent Newspaper.

Our demands are:

1. That Independent Newspaper gets rid of Capacity and makes their employment permanent. 2. That all the grievances raised by workers be addressed speedily. 3. That the victimization, harassment and ill-treatment of workers be stopped immediately. 4. That TNPC gives workers a direct response to these demands. 5. That TNPC meet with workers and their representatives to discuss these demands.

We will appreciate a copy of any solidarity e-mail or article.

For information Contact:

Lawrence Ntuli - 073 5354016 John Appolis - 073 4082674 / [email protected]

Issued by the Capacity Workers Support Committee


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