Putco blasts Numsa for delaying suspended workers’ hearings; blatant lies

The Putco bus operator has blasted trade union Numsa for propagating for the boycott of its services. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

The Putco bus operator has blasted trade union Numsa for propagating for the boycott of its services. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Published Mar 3, 2024


The Putco bus operator has blasted trade union Numsa for propagating for the boycott of its services, while seeking to drag out disciplinary hearings against suspended workers for two-and-a-half years.

To “set the record straight” around misrepresentations surrounding the dispute, the bus operator expressed disappointment at the manner in which the union had chosen to make unfounded statements and media attacks aimed at pressuring the company to drop the disciplinary charges against the remaining 85 Numsa members accused of gross misconduct.

Putco spokesperson Lindokuhle Xulu said even though all efforts had been made by Putco to urge the union to adhere to the agreement for an accelerated process, this had all but been ignored by them for months now.

Instead, he said, for a year-and-a-half the company has had to carry the cost of more than 100 employees on full paid suspension, while appeals for hearings with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to be expedited had been repeatedly ignored.

The spokesperson said the union had instead resorted to delaying tactics and pushing for hearings to be concluded in November or December 2024.

“This will mean that the expedited hearings will have taken almost two and a half years while suspended employees continue to be paid for not doing anything. That is not an expedited process.

“It is now 18 months since the hearings have started and Numsa is continuously employing every conceivable delaying tactic.

“More than 73 actual hearing days have been spent and still the Section 188A hearing for its members is still far from concluded, while at the same time the hearings for the members of the other four trade unions were concluded long ago, but the Numsa hearings (although for larger numbers) have been unreasonably delayed,” Xulu said.

Putco called for arbitration hearings for Numsa members to at the very latest be concluded by April 5.

The spokesperson further rubbished claims that workers’ rights were being violated, with them required to report daily to the company’s depots, some of which were allegedly in a deplorable state.

He emphasised that nothing could be further from the truth; the company had made amendments requiring the workers to report to depots after it was discovered that some of the suspended employees had taken up secondary employment with other companies while on paid suspension with the company.

To make matters worse, some employees were also not attending the hearings as required.

If anything, he said, the workers were afforded an open area where there were trees where employees could sit under the shade and with a municipal water tap from which they can drink clean water also being available.

In addition, he said, employees also had access to two normal toilet facilities with washing basins, and the company had provided additional modern temporary chemical toilets that were serviced regularly.

“Numsa indicated its intention to refer the current disputes to the Labour Court on an urgent basis before the end of the week.

“Putco will defend its position at the Labour Court should such an application be lodged by Numsa.”

The union blamed the delay in the arbitrary hearings on the bus operator management insisting they had proposed to defend workers in groups, according to the charges faced. However, this was rejected by Putco management, even though this would have effectively afforded them less time during hearings as they had a large group of workers.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said the union would not be bullied and would seek the assistance of the Labour Court to resolve the impasse.

“We will not be bullied into submission by lawyers. Putco is threatening to take us to court to force us to reduce the number of witnesses in the disciplinary hearing but we are ready to defend our members and their right to a fair trial,” Jim said.

The Star