Tiso strike could disrupt Zondo Commission

The Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture has been warned that its proceedings might be disrupted as from 14 March due to a planned strike by union members at media group Tiso Blackstar.

The commission proceedings take place in a building also occupied by Tiso.

Moeketse Lepheana, president of the SAFTU-affiliated Information Communication and Technology Union (ICTU), told Fin24 on Wednesday afternoon that a letter had been delivered to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and the Tiso management on behalf of the union.

The letter warns of possible severe disruption of the Zondo Commission when a protected strike by ICTU starts on 14 March. Grievances relate to, among other things, the lack of payment of bonuses.

According to Lepheana, all 30 Saftu affiliated unions as well as members of civil society intend to come and support the ICTU members in their strike. He said a large number of people are expected.

Lepheana would like to see Deputy Chief Justice Zondo engage with the Tiso management to encourage the latter to come to an agreement with the union. Zondo has been invited to meet with the union in this regard on 12 March.

At the time of publication of this article the union had not received a response from either Zondo or the Tiso management regarding the union's letter yet.

"We are just concerned about the safety of witnesses coming to testify at the Zondo Commission on 14 March, because it is in the same building that houses Tiso," Lepheana told Fin24.

He does foresee that the Commission might decide to sit at a different venue on that day.

The Tiso Blackstar group contains a number of SA newspapers, including the Sunday Times, the Financial Mail and Business Day, as well as the Sowetan, among others.

Fin24 reported earlier on Wednesday that Andy Gill, managing director of the Tiso Blackstar Group, confirmed the ICTU approached the CCMA with a dispute concerning the non-payment of bonuses to staff.

"The company did in fact award bonuses to those divisions that met the criteria as well as award discretionary bonuses to top performers. The CCMA conciliated the matter and issued a certificate of non-resolution. The union has yet to issue a notice to strike.  We remain committed to constructively engage with our employees on this and any other matter that may arise," he said in a statement.

It is understood that the union and Tiso Blackstar management will return to the CCMA over the issue of organisational rights at the company and whether Tiso Blackstar must recognise the union.