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Media Centre  |  Affiliates Press Statements

Minister Patel should intervene at the Competition Comission to prevent a looming collapse and possible industrial action

10 September 2013

NEHAWU is deeply concerned by escalating acts of victimisation and the violations of workers’ rights by the management at the Competition Commission.

This follows the suspension of several employees without following proper procedures and the flouting of the Commission’s internal policies. This has resulted in the commission experiencing a high rate of staff turnover in the past two years.

Recently, we have seen the exit of not only the former Deputy Commissioner and the Chief Economist, but several other divisional managers, including the Chief Financial Officer.

This toxic working environment and uncertainty experienced by workers, if not curbed, will seriously erode the well-documented good work of this government agency which relies heavily on its employees to investigate, control and evaluate restrictive business practices. South Africa cannot afford an ailing or crippled Competition Commission considering the recent cases of companies abusing their dominant positions and the urgent and obvious need for efficiency in the country’s economy. We have recently handed over memorandums of demands to both the Competition Commissioner, Mr Shan Ramburuth, and to the Minister of Economic Development,Mr Ebrahim Patel. These memorandums broadly relate to the demands of the employees of the Competition Commission and the failure of the minister to intervene.

Amongst the issues that we raised in those memorandums were the following:

  • The reinstatement of two employees that have been unfairly suspended from work in a manner which is inconsistent with the policies of the Competition Commission.
  • The call for the minister to intervene to stop the acts of victimisation and abuse of power by managers at the CC.
  • Call on the minister to open the appointment of the new Deputy Commissioners.
  • Call on the minister to ensure that the correct recruitment processes and policies are followed in the appointment of senior managers.
  • Call on the minister to make the outcomes of his two investigations into corporate governance at the Competition Commission available to employees.
  • Call on the minister to respond to complaints lodged with him against the Competition Commissioner and management.

NEHAWU has also been in negotiations with management regarding decent salary adjustments for workers; performance based salary increases, as well as other substantive conditions of employment. We demand open discussions and consultations around the renewal of employment contracts, the review of HR policies that were unilaterally altered and an alternative to the current medical aid.

We do not believe that the current offer by the employer (which is only 6.5% for cost of living adjustments) matches the effective cost of living that employees face given the salary structure of the Commission. Furthermore, as it stands the proposals relating to benchmarking of staff salaries only relate to the coming financial year, which is dependent on approvals by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Economic Development.

So far, all of the workers demands have not been met and the parties have deadlocked. We have declared a dispute at the CCMA and the matter is scheduled for conciliation on 16 September 2013

We call on the minister to intervene immediately because failure to do so will result in our union mobilising its members for a possible industrial action. NEHAWU represents over 70% of the employees of the Commission and if we do not get an urgent response from the Executive Committee and the Minister, we will explore our legal options including a possible withdrawal of our labour.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat Office

For further information, please contact: Sizwe Pamla (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 011 833 2902 - 082 558 5962 or email: sizwep@nehawu.org.za