Solidarity for Capacity Outsourcing Workers

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Joined: 15-04-06
Nov 13 2007 14:16
Solidarity for Capacity Outsourcing Workers


The Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) and its affiliates, together with the
workers of Capacity Outsourcing, have formed a Capacity Workers Support
Committee to galvanise solidarity for the workers' struggle against the
vicious exploitation and oppression of Capacity Outsourcing, a labour
brokering company used by Independent Newspapers Holding Limited, situated
at 47 Sauer Street, Johannesburg. *(**Please see extensive history and
demands below**)*

We are calling on all progressive organisations/movements, individuals and
journalists to rally behind the Capacity Outsourcing Workers to assist us in
exposing what is happening at Independent Newspapers. The Capacity Workers
Support Committee is continuing with its mass action against Capacity

· *On 9th November, pickets are going to be held at the offices of
Independent Newspapers (47 Sauer Street – Johannesburg) and the offices of
Johnnic Communications (4 Biermann Avenue, Rosebank) *

*· On 16th November, there will be a mass march to the offices of
Independent Newspapers, demanding that the managing director of 'The
National Printing Company', as well as ADCORP Holdings (the owners of
Capacity Outsourcing) Executive Chairperson - Dr Frederick Van Zyl Slabbert
- receive the memorandum *

We are calling on organisations and individuals to support this mass action
and to do the following:

· Stop buying newspapers in the Independent stable - The Star, Cape
Argus, Pretoria News, Daily News, The Mercury, Post, Saturday Star, Sunday
Tribune, The Sunday Independent, Cape Times, Saturday Argus, Sunday Argus,
Business Report, Personal Finance and Sunday Life

· Write articles to these newspapers expressing outrage and demanding a
stop to the violation of workers rights

· Write e-mails, fax or telephone Dr Van Zyl Slabbert expressing outrage
and demanding that he stops the violation of workers rights : e-mail:, Fax : 011 889-0638, Tel : 011 889-0633

· Target any public appearance of Dr Van Zyl Slabbert, exposing his

· Write e-mails to the Managing Director of 'The National Printing
Company', Bernard Briggs, expressing outrage : e-mail –

· Write e-mails to the Directors of Johnnic: e- mail *

· Engage in any other public support.


Since the introduction of Capacity Outsourcing in 2004 by 'The National
Printing Company' (TNPC), a company owned by Independent Newspapers, workers
have been subjected to extreme forms of exploitation and violation of their

In 2004, Independent Newspapers, through TNPC, retrenched more than 250
permanent workers, who were then only to be re-employed by labour brokers.
The first labour broker was Capital Outsourcing. This labour broker was
kicked out and later replaced by another, called Capacity Outsourcing. The
only reason why TNPC first retrenched workers and then re-employed them
under the labour broker was to cheapen the labour of workers and thereby
drive down the wages and other benefits of the workers. This is precisely
what happened.

Under Independent Newspapers, workers used to earn R1500-00 per week and had
a medical aid and a retirement fund. Now under the labour broker, Capacity
Outsourcing, workers earn between R750-R800 per week and have neither
medical aid nor a retirement fund. Workers wages were thus reduced by almost
100% and in fact they are earning, in 2007, the wages that they received in
1982. Besides these exploitative conditions, workers are also subjected to
constant ill-treatment at the hands of supervisors of both Independent
Newspapers and Capacity Outsourcing


Recently, Capacity Outsourcing has embarked upon a campaign of intimidation,
harassment and victimisation of members of the General Industries Workers
Union of SA (GIWUSA). The company is attempting to get rid of the union
because it has consistently, over the years, been fighting against the
exploitation of workers.

Capacity Outsourcing is a company that violates agreements and workers'
rights. On the 5th September 2007, GIWUSA signed an agreement with Capacity
Outsourcing which states that non-core workers must be employed on the basis
of date of service. The management basically ignored this agreement, called
workers individually to sign a performance based, market street roster and
told them that if they wanted to be selected they must resign from GIWUSA.
Workers are being told that they need to resign from GIWUSA otherwise there
is no place for them at Independent Newspapers. The management has done this
behind the back of GIWUSA and implemented a performance based selection
criteria that is premised on the subjective opinions of the supervisors. The
agreement also states that four female comrades must be made part of the
core staff on day-shift. Again the management ignored this agreement and
sent these comrades home regularly.


Capacity Outsourcing has, for the third time, suspended the shop steward,
Bongani Ntuli. His alleged crime is allowing the unauthorised entry of a
GIWUSA official. The fact of the matter is that the GIWUSA official attended
a meeting with union members - notices for the meeting were posted on the
notice boards, a letter was written to the management about the meeting and
the security guard granted access to the premises. This has been the normal
procedure followed for all previous union meetings at Independent

Additionally, Capacity Outsourcing has added a fourth charge against Comrade
Ntuli. The charge reads as follows: "You are accused of* deliberately
distributing derogatory information about the company *in that: During your
demonstrations and/or picketing at Johnnic Communications on 11 October
2007, you were seen handing out pamphlets containing

information that is derogatory and offensive to the good name of the
company. Your conduct is unacceptable as it constitutes breach of good faith
upon which your employment at Capacity is based."

First, Capacity Outsourcing undermines workers' rights to belong to a trade
union of their choice by forcing them to resign from GIWUSA. Now, it has
gone a step further to suppress the freedom of expression of its employees.
This fourth charge is nothing but an attempt to silence workers. Capacity
Outsourcing wants to stop workers from speaking the truth. Also, it seems
that the company is of the view that if they remove the shop steward from
the shop-floor then the problems of workers will somehow evaporate. The
thinking of management appears to be one of removing the "agitators" and
then the rest will be intimidated and problems solved.


At the head of Capacity Outsourcing stands Dr Frederick van Zyl Slabbert, an
erstwhile democrat and liberal. Capacity Outsourcing is wholly owned by
ADCORP Holdings Group and the executive chairperson of ADCOPR Holdings is Dr
Frederick Van Zyl Slabbert, the former leader of the forerunner of the DA,
the Progressive Federal Party (PFP). ADCORP Holdings specialises in labour

The other day, Van Zyl Slabbert formed part of an independent panel
assessing whether parliament and its parliamentary portfolio committees are
carrying out their democratic mandate. What right and credentials does Van
Zyl Slabbert have to ensure that the Constitution is observed in relation to
parliament but the company which he is heading is violating basic
Constitutional rights?


It is evident that Independent Newspapers has employed the labour broker,
Capacity Outsourcing, to undercut the wages and benefits of workers and
thereby obtain cheap labour. Independent Newspapers is also using the labour
broker to control workers through a workplace regime of ill-treatment and
job insecurity so that maximum production can be extracted from workers.
GIWUSA has found that the labour broker is impotent to address workers
issues because they are under the control and direction of Independent
Newspapers. No issue or problem can be addressed by the labour broker
without the consent of Independent Newspapers.

In reality, though workers are legally contracted to Capacity Outsurcing,
they are very much still under the control, supervision and direction of
Independent Newspapers. The latter is hiding behind the labour broker. These
practices are similar to many other companies where labour brokers are used
by employers. In fact, in South Africa, employers are using labour brokers
to create a workplace environment where job insecurity is rife and wages are
reminiscent of that under apartheid.

In 2005, a year or two after TNPC retrenched its permanent staff and used
the services of labour brokers like Capacity Outsourcing, Independent
Newspapers (SA) became 'the star performer of the INM Group ( Independent
News and Media Plc)'. It delivered a staggering "34,8 % increase in
operating profit to Euro 41.8 million". It also boasted that operating
margins at Independent News and Media (SA) increased to 18,8%. This
substantial increase is attributed to "a combination of a strong double
digit improvement in total revenues and the benefits of strong cost
containment initiatives". These cost containment involved the massive
retrenchment of permanent staff and the use of an exploitative labour
broker, Capacity Outsourcing.

* *


TNPC is a partnership jointly owned by Johnnic and Independent Newspapers.
This makes Johnnic an accomplice in the violation of workers' basic rights.
Every day, workers print, pack and wrap the various newspapers, but their
basic rights of freedom to join a trade union of their choice, freedom of
expression and right to decent work are being violated.

Expose the hypocrisy!! We are outraged that Independent Newspapers and
Johnnic are continuing to tolerate and encourage the violation of the basic
constitutional rights of workers by its labour broker. TNPC through its
various newspapers, cries foul whenever restrictions are placed on
journalists' right to publish critical articles. But in its own back-yard it
tolerates these unconstitutional acts. This duplicity and hypocrisy must be


1. That Independent Newspapers gets rid of Capacity Outsourcing and
makes the employment of its workers permanent.
2. That all the grievances raised by workers be addressed speedily.
3. That the victimisation, harassment and ill-treatment of workers be
stopped immediately.
4. That TNPC gives workers a direct response to these demands.
5. That TNPC meet with workers and their representatives to discuss
these demands.

*We will appreciate a copy of any solidarity e-mail or article.*

For further comment/information contact:
Bongani Ntuli – 082 663-3843
Lawrence Ntuli - 073 535-4016
John Appolis – 073 408-2674 /

*Issued by the Capacity Workers Support Committee*