Legal View

Mustek, union stand-off continues in Midrand

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Mustek has beefed up its security in Midrand.
Mustek has beefed up its security in Midrand.

The face-off between the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and ICT distributor Mustek seems to be intensifying.

Three days after Mustek interdicted and restrained the union from coming within 50m of its Midrand premises, the CWU today continued picketing.

The company has since beefed up its security, with more guards wearing anti-riot gear being deployed at its premises.

Mustek has since reached out to its customers, notifying them of the situation and promising to seek legal support.

It says: “It is an unfortunate situation that this morning has resulted in further incidences of violence and intimidation by strikers at the Mustek Midrand branch. Mustek are in the process of taking the appropriate legal action. Please can we request that customers do not physically come to the Midrand branch premises today.”

Mustek management was forced to lockup its head office on Friday after three days of industrial action by the CWU turned violent, which saw the company halt deliveries and collections, when the strike which had begun peacefully escalated.

Due to the growing tensions, Mustek then approached the High Court for relief, which was granted.

The court ordered the CWU to comply with the picketing rules from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration dated 3 September 2020.

The CWU and its members were also interdicted and restrained from coming within 50m of the perimeter of Mustek.

The court also interdicted the union and restrained it “from in any way interfering with, threatening, harming or damaging, intimidating, harassing and/or assaulting any clients, customers, suppliers, vehicles, non-striking employees, replacement labourers and goods of Mustek”.

Nicole Orr, national marketing executive at Mustek, says: “Should the Communication Workers Union have complied with the picketing rules and behaved lawfully, there would not have been reason to approach the courts in the first instance.

“We have, this morning, been advised of further incidences of violence and intimidation, and are taking the appropriate legal action.”

The CWU denies being violent or breaking the rules.

“We agreed on the principle of no violence and intimidation which was not there anyway,” says CWU secretary general Aubrey Tshabalala.

“They went there [court] to interdict the strike and that a court should declare it unlawful. They did not get that; the strike is on. We agreed on approaching and engaging customers peacefully and Midrand is the only place where picketing rules did not specify a distance and it was agreed on 50 metres. Their interdict failed dismally.”

The union is demanding 20% salary increase and a R2 000 per month / per employee housing subsidy, which the company says is “unreasonable”.

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