It is with great concern that the United National Transport Union (UNTU) has noted that there is confusion amongst its members as to what the Union’s role is within Transnet’s Voluntary Severance Package (VSP) process.
As far as UNTU could establish, there are still approximately 149 employees who have applied for the VSP but has not heard the outcome thereof. There are also employees who are dissatisfied with Transnet’s decision to not grant them a VSP as requested.
UNTU once again wants to take this opportunity to make it clear to our members that the Union was only consulted on the VSP and it did not support the VSP process when asked, it advised its members against taking a VSP as it was not involved in any of the deciding criteria for or on the applications for a VSP.
The VSP is a financial incentive offered by Transnet to employees in the hope that some of them will apply. Transnet wants to save R5 billion on its wage bill over a three year period. This is after the company was severely impacted on due to challenging economic conditions, with a poor forecast of improvement any time soon.
Transnet employees had the option to either accept or decline the VSP, just as the executive management team of each of Transnet’s relevant departments, who had to make the recommendation to Transnet to indicate if they support the granting of the VSP or not. Transnet; therefore, has the right to refuse any application for a VSP.
In terms of the current Wage Agreement (2015-2018) there will be no forced retrenchments in Transnet for the duration of the agreement. Transnet is entitled to offer voluntary retrenchment and voluntary early retirement packages to its employees, should it deem it necessary to do so due to its operational requirements. Transnet may also terminate the services of any employee, without payment of a severance package, if the employee unreasonably refuses to accept a reasonable offer of alternative employment within Transnet.
Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU, would like to emphasize to UNTU members whose applications for the VSP were declined, not to panic and not to listen to gossip, but to keep copies of all the relevant documentation they have submitted for the VSP for a possible forced retrenchment process in the future.
According to Harris there is no need for Transnet employees to start fearing of losing their jobs. He referred to a recent Labour Court Judgement in Johannesburg that reaffirms the obligation in terms of Section 189(A) (19) of the Labour Relations Act, on the Employer to convince the Court that the dismissal was to give effect to a requirement based on the employer’s economic, technological, structural or similar needs, and that the dismissal was operationally justifiable on rational grounds, and that there was a proper consideration of alternatives and that the selection criteria was fair and objective.
Although UNTU is not involved in the VSP process, the Union did inquire from Transnet as to why there are so many employees whom are still awaiting a response on their applications for a VSP, from the company. Transnet indicated that all employees can expect a response by no later than Friday 5 May 2017.
For more information contact Steve Harris on 082 566 5516.
Issued on behalf of UNTU by Sonja Carstens, Media and Liaison Officer.