As comrades are aware the company (Roberston Winery) filed papers in the Labour Court on contempt of Court by the workers and union leadership.
They have argued that the union leadership and their shop stewards should be arrested and jailed. The only evidence that the company produced in court was Facebook photos of some workers branding a stick and golf stick. The same Photos that they produced to get the court order. This was in fact photos taken before the court order. The other evidence they produced was Whatsapp messages of scabs saying there was push from the taxi and buses.
The other evidence was a affidavit from the taxi driver saying his taxi was stopped and prevented from entering the company premises. No substantive evidence of violence by the strikers was produced in court. One local newspaper described the strike as the most peaceful strike against the background of violent protest in South Africa today. Their lawyer tried to argue that the union is demanding 150%, trying to convince the court that the union demands is irresponsible.
The judge told the court that it is important to expose what workers are earning now, confirming that workers earn very low wages, unfortunately the labour court cannot interfere in the negotiations. The Court did rule that there is a prima facie case for the union to answer to the allegations and to submit papers on Monday 12 September 2016. The case will then resume on the 14 October 2016.
The judge was trying to be fair, we would have hope that the judge kicks out the case with costs. The company did not get what it wanted, it wanted the court to sit urgently next week. The judge reminded them that this is an protected strike. This is the same judge that ruled against the union with cost in connection with the 2012 farm worker uprising . Also the Robertson Abbottior case was heard by this judge,he also made a damming judgement against the union, which the Appeal Court overturned.
Nevertheless, the company tried this court bid to strengthen its hand at the negotiating table, and they failed. They are forced to come to the negotiating table by the united action of workers and the solidarity action from progressive organisations and civil society. The union has filed an urgent application to the CCMA to assist in the dispute. They are just waiting for a date to be set.. We therefore appeal to comrades to intensify the campaign; continue to boycott Robertson Wine and writing letters to the company. This will strengthen the hand of workers at the negotiating table.