19 November 2020
General secretary of the Independent Commercial Hospitality and Allied Workers Union (ICHAWU) Dale Fish has been banned from all I&J workplace sites after a strike by employees of I&J Aquaculture Danger Point in Gansbaai.
About 100 employees went on strike on 12 November, demanding a wage increase to have salaries in line with colleagues at I&J Woodstock.
A day after the strike began, I&J sent a letter to ICHAWU saying Fish is “no longer welcome at any of the I&J workplaces” due to two “unlawful” gatherings outside the I&J Woodstock building and the I&J Danger Point building (on 5 October and 5 November, respectively).
Fish, however, said that these were not illegal gatherings and it was just him “addressing workers” after they wanted to see him. Fish also said that he didn’t understand why the company only banned him right after workers started to strike, instead of earlier when the gatherings took place.
Following Fish’s ban, I&J gave notice of a lockout which started on Monday 16 November, preventing about 100 employees from entering the Danger Point workplace.
The notice read that the lockout of employees would continue until striking employees agree to the 5.5% increase. “The principle of ‘no work, no pay’ shall apply for the duration of the lockout,” the notice read.
An employee at the company and a member of ICHAWU, Goitse Seieumeng, said that when they tried to go to work on Wednesday morning, they weren’t allowed in. “They want to force us to take the 5.5%,” said Seieumeng.
He said that workers are currently demanding at least a 9% increase, which was initially 15%.
Employees at Danger Point, who work with abalone, earn R28 an hour, while those at Woodstock, who work with fish, are earning over R40 an hour.
Fish told GroundUp that no progress has been made with negotiations. Employees from Danger Point want a similar rate or at least come close to R40, he said.
“It’s grossly unfair that certain workers get [more] in Woodstock … It’s all I&J … The structures are all the same. Only thing that’s different are the rates,” said Fish.
We were unable to get further comment from I&J.
CORRECTION: The article incorrectly stated that I&J gave notice of the lockouton 16 October. It was 16 November.