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implatsheadgear smlTheto Mahlakoana writes that the hard-fought right of workers to be consulted on workplace services that affect their welfare, such as catering and company transport, has been hijacked by corruption and self-enrichment.  

The commission of inquiry into state capture heard last week from former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi how union leaders were bribed to secure contracts worth millions of rand for Bosasa in the companies where their unions were organised.  The practice is all too common, current and former leaders told Business Day, indicating that it dated back to the 1980s when outsourcing was introduced for services such as catering and later for transport in local mines and other big industrial plants such as Sasol.  The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was among the organisations that fought to have a stake in the appointment of the service providers because they wanted to have a say in everything that affected workers, including the quality of food.  However, this virtue became the gateway for shop stewards to cut deals with competing companies.  In instances where employers awarded contracts to service providers other than the shop stewards’ preferred bidder, workers would be galvanised to strike, forcing employers to buckle under pressure.  Agrizzi mentioned the names of some of Cosatu’s oldest unions including the NUM, claiming that union officials had benefited from tenders that were irregularly awarded to Bosasa by private companies and government departments.  He also referred to Amcu.  The corruption is embedded, with branch leaders in mining unions on the gravy train, claimed a source.

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