“The Building Industry Bargaining Council (Cape of Good Hope) (BIBC) was not party to the meeting between the builders and the Commissioner last week. We are however very concerned at the one-sided reporting of alleged promises and commitments made by the Commissioner. This includes closing the BIBC offices in Hermanus until the builders’ issues are addressed. It has not been possible to confirm or deny that the comments attributed to Commissioner Nissen are in fact true as we are awaiting a response to our request to meet with him. His office has confirmed that he is currently engaged in the Northern Cape,” says the BIBC.
The BIBC further explained: “It should be noted that our regional offices are vital to assist bereaved families to claim funeral and death benefits, as well as assisting members to apply for retirement and withdrawal benefits. In addition employees in the industry need to refer unfair labour practices (such as unfair dismissals) for conciliation and arbitration at the BIBC offices.”
The BIBC commented further and said that the BIBC has consistently tried to engage constructively with the builders in the area.
“The level of violence and aggression employed by the builders against the staff of the BIBC is however hampering all efforts to work towards a solution to the current impasse. We invite the parties again to present a coherent and reasonable set of claims that can be discussed without the builders resorting to violence and intimidation as soon as they disagree with a response,” adds the BIBC.
The BIBC confirmed that they had to close their offices on 26 and 27 January and staff were threatened by the builders at the march on 25 January.
“To show how serious they were about this threat, tyres were placed in front of our offices. We are exceptionally concerned at the trauma experienced by our staff who were threatened. Staff were threatened with physical harm to themselves and told that their children and families would also not be safe from their attacks. The builders then moved their protest to the family home of the manager of the office where we were forced to evacuate his 74-year old mother-in-law and his teenage son. The family then had to be moved to a safer location for the rest of the week with the children withdrawn from their school as we feared for their safety,” says the BIBC.
Hilton Pedro of Whale Coast Contractors confirms that tyres were stacked in front of the business. “We did not threaten anyone and we were not aggressive towards anyone. We were trying to highlight our issues and concerns that we have,” says Pedro.
The BIBC concludes: “We have been transparent with our fee structure and have made available audited financial records that confirm that 96% of the funds administered by the BIBC are for the benefit of the employees and that only 4% is paid to the BIBC as a levy which is used to administer the various employee benefit funds and also to offer dispute resolution services to the industry as an agent of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA)”.
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