The emergency plan will be announced at a Solidarity members’ meeting on 19 February where the trade union will assist members with updating their CVs and Helping Hand will provide food parcels to those in need.
About 2 187 people, among them 300 Solidarity members, have been affected by the retrenchments at Highveld Steel and Vanchem Vanadium Products respectively. According to Marius Croucamp, Deputy General Secretary of Solidarity’s Metal and Engineering Industry, many of those retrenched did not receive a salary in the previous month and neither did they receive any severance packages.
“As a trade union, our main objective is to mitigate the impact of the retrenchment process on our members. During the retrenchment consultations we shall propose and investigate all other alternatives to retrenchments. We shall also put pressure on the government to acknowledge its role in the tragedy, as well as its responsibility towards the company and its workers,” Croucamp said.
According to Dr Danie Brink, chief executive of Helping Hand, the distress in the Witbank area is huge and urgent. “This tragedy is having far-reaching effects on the Witbank community, and it is going to cause a greater humanitarian crisis than the 2014 strikes at the AMCU mine in Rustenburg. People have already run out of food, and they are desperate.”
Brink and Croukamp are appealing urgently to the public to help alleviate the emergency. “During the AMCU strikes we received great assistance from the farmers in the Rustenburg area. Now the country is being hit hard by drought and tough economic times. We definitely need the public to come to the aid of these people and relieve the most pressing hardship,” Brink said.
The Witbank Retrenchment Emergency Fund has been set up to this end, and Solidarity and Helping Hand are asking the public to offer assistance by SMSing “Witbank” to 38969 and donating R10 or by visiting www.helpwitbank.co.za for Helping Hand’s bank details to make larger donations.
The public can deliver donations such as non-perishable food to the following offices:
Bureau de Paul 2B, Corridor Crescent, Route N4 Business Park, Ben Fleur X11, Emalahleni (Witbank)
Cornelius van Leeuwen
Cell: 082 870 2030
Helping Hand Head Office – Cnr. DF Malan and Eendracht Streets, Kloofsig, Centurion
Tel: 012 644 4390
All enquiries regarding the Witbank retrenchments can be directed to Marius Croucamp:
Deputy General Secretary: Solidarity Metal Industry
Cell: 083 454 6018
All enquiries regarding Helping Hand’s humanitarian support during retrenchments can be directed to Dr Danie Brink:
Dr Danie Brink
Chief Executive: Helping Hand
Tel. 012 644 4390 or email@example.com