CWAO in Review 2011/2012
2011/2012 in Review
The Casual Workers Advice Office opened its doors on 3 October, 2011. From that time the organisation has given advice and support to workers, produced resources for use by other advice offices, and supported them through initiatives such as joint training. The latter half of the year also witnessed the rise of the Solidarity Committee, a loose grouping consisting of dismissed and striking workers from across different unions, working together to support and strengthen their respective struggles (see separate article).
1. Advice and Support to Workers
In its first year of existence the CWAO handled over 270 cases involving over 2600 workers, with a 84% success rate for how the cases were concluded. The organisation follows workers cases right through to their final conclusion, even in instances where the workers’ grievances and complaints have been referred to other organisations such as the CCMA and bargaining councils. The advice office makes an average of 4 follow up phone calls
The majority of cases involved unfair dismissal. Within this category, the often fraudulent termination of ‘contracts’ by labour brokers of worker contracts constituted a significant proportion.
Other commons problems included non-registration for UIF benefits, underpayment of wages, illegal deductions from wages, no payslips, employers deducting but not paying over provident fund deductions, workmen’s compensation claims and, in significant number, labour broker workers wanting to be employed directly by client companies.
The private security industry is the most common violator of the most basic worker rights.
The majority of workers approaching the office for support are men. Of the individual workers, the split is roughly 65% men against 25% women. However, in some of the bigger cases the CWAO has dealt with, including its most recent one at Simba involving 636 workers, the vast majority of the workers are young women.
The majority of the 2600 workers the advice office has worked are under the age of 35.
The CWAO is located in Germiston, on the old east rand. The majority of workers using its services are drawn from the 3 closest east rand townships, Katlehong, Thokoza and Vosloorus. The office draws a large number of workers from slightly more distant east rand townships like Tembisa and has also managed to attract workers from as far afield as Soweto and Diepsloot.
The organisation has set up a free telephonic advice service, whereby workers nationally will be able to receive free telephonic advice by sending a (free) Please Call Me to a dedicated number (072 799 5318). Advice office staff will then follow this up with phone calls, advice and, where necessary, referral to local advice offices, or local offices of trade unions, bargaining councils, the CCMA or Department of Labour.
The system has been set up but is not yet operational, due to financial constraints.
(2) Mass Education
The organisation hosted several peak time evening phone-in discussions on the rights of casual and labour broker workers on Kasie FM, a community radio station based in Spruitview and serving mainly the townships from which most workers using the services of the advice office come. The station has a listenership of 197 000.
Two interviews were also given to a media network committed to strengthening working class voices, SACSIS. The advice office also participated in a number of radio discussions in other provinces, dealing with topics such as May Day and the state of the trade unions today.
(3) Support to Other Advice Offices
The CWAO has provided support to other advice offices through the production of 2 critical resources. One is a reference book that shows which wage regulating measures different industries are covered by, ‘Worker Rights; Wages and Conditions of Employment’. This book is complemented by a CD/DVD containing all centralized collective agreements, sectoral determinations and a big range of other, necessary resources for advising and supporting workers, the ‘Worker Rights Toolbox’. The CWAO also organized CCMA unfair dismissal best practice training for itself and a number of other advice offices.
Download Related Document: 2012 in Review.pdf