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Industrial Action at Robertson Winery

Background:

Robertson Winery and CSAAWU, the trade union recognised by Robertson Winery for purposes of collective bargaining, continue to be in dispute regarding proposed salary adjustments for the following twelve month period.

An attempt by the CCMA to concilate the dispute was unsuccessful and the trade union has engaged in protected industrial action in support of its demands. At the commencement of the industrial action, the trade union was demanding an increase of 57%, in response to an offer by Robertson Winery, of an 8% increase across the Board.  The trade union has subsequently reverted to a 150% minimum wage increase (i.e. R8,500.00 per month minimum wage).

”The Company’s proposed increase of 8% will raise the minimum wage package (cost to company) for any permanent employee at Robertson Winery to R4,426.71 per month” said Anton Cilliers, the Chief Executive Officer of Robertson Winery. ”The average monthly salary package (Cost to company) for our permanent employees within the Bargaining Unit will be R6,140.00 per month” he clarified.

”We remain totally committed to improving the living standards for all our employees and we have a long term strategy towards this end” he said. ”As an example, amongst other terms and conditions of employment, we provide a Housing subsidy to qualifying employees, free Clinic facilities to all our employees and we have certain paid Maternity leave for the mothers amongst our workforce.”

All the company’s labour practices are audited and accredited by WIETA, (“Wine Industry Ethical Trade Association”) which ensures that all the Winery employment practices and standards are bench marked against standards set by the International Labour Organisation, based in Geneva. This process is designed to ensure that internationally bench marked ethical standards are fully implemented and maintained by the organisation.

The trade union CSAAWU is presently fully recognised by Robertson Winery for purposes of collective bargaining and the union has additionally been granted full organisational rights within the company. The Company is presently exploring the introduction of an extra ordinary and private dispute resolution process which incorporates the CCMA, to deal expeditiously with any workplace issues which might arise.

Section 150 Meeting:

On Monday 19 September the parties convened in a Section 150 Intervention under the auspices of the CCMA, where further attempts were made to reach agreement on the ongoing wage dispute.  Unfortunately the dispute could not be resolved by way of this process.

During these proceedings, CSAAWU trade union requested access to additional financial information pertaining to Robertson Winery.

In response to this request, Robertson Winery indicated that it would support a meeting which duly took place on the 28th September2016 between the Company’s Auditors and a an accredited Chartered Accountant appointed by CSAAWU.

Robertson Winery utilized this process to provide information to the union’s representative which it regarded as being relevant to the collective bargaining process and which depicted the appropriate criteria and trends which the company has applied in the negotiation process.

In keeping with the provisions of Section 16 of the Labour Relations Act which relates to the appropriate disclosure of information for purposes of collective bargaining, the company disclosed information that it believed to be relevant to and in furtherance of effective and rational collective bargaining between the parties.

This did not include the disclosure of information which was deemed to be private and confidential, or which was legally privileged or information which if disclosed could cause prejudice or harm to any employee or the company.

CSAAWU’s appointed Chartered Accountant indicated that he would be making clear his findings to CSAAWU shortly.

Current situation:

”Robertson Winery remains confident that the present wage dispute will finally be resolved through the process of constructive engagement and negotiation between the union and the company” Cilliers said.

”Unfortunately the resolution of this matter has not been assisted by the fact that the strike is has continued to be accompanied by extraordinary levels of intimidation and threats of violence against those employees wishing to work during the strike.

The Company had no option but to seek a Court Interdict against the criminal activity of union members and subsequently, was required to bring a contempt of Court application against CSAAWU, for its ongoing failure to adhere to the stipulations of the Court interdict. The outcome of this application for a Contempt of Court Ruling, will be expected soon.

CSAAWU, the trade union informed the Company on the 30th September 2016, of its intention to continue the current strike action indefinitely.

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