The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) has called the resignation of Mark Lamberti from his position as the chief executive of Imperial a “great victory” for the federation.
On April 3 of this year, the North Gauteng High court found that Lamberti impaired the dignity of Adila Chowan, a former employee at Associated Motor Holdings, an Imperial Holdings subsidiary. This followed him referring to Chowan as a “female, employment equity candidate”, a remark that Lamberti later apologised for.
Imperial Holdings denied Lamberti was found guilty of racism and sexism. It said that its board has noted the content and tone of the judgment “in which there is no finding of defamation, racism or sexism” as its been widely reported in the media.
Lamberti’s comments about Chowan were deemed sexist and racist, and the Economic Freedom Fighters, trade federation Cosatu, the Black Business Council and the Black Management Forum called for Lamberti’s resignation.
In a statement Saftu said that amidst its calls for Lamberti to step down, workers at Imperial Cargo, a subsidiary of Imperial Holdings, staged a sit-in to demand the reinstatement of 14 members of the Democratic Transport Logistics and Allied Workers Union (Detawu) whom the company “unlawfully suspended for taking part in the Saftu-led strike and march to Parliament on 12 April”.
According to the statement, the company conceded that the strike was protected under section 77 of the Labour Relations Act and thus the workers could not be disciplined for taking part. “They agreed to reinstate the 14 workers unconditionally,” said Saftu.
Saftu said that the reinstatement of Detawu workers at Imperial should “encourage other workers to resist any employers who threaten employees not to join the general strike and marches on April 25”.
The protected nationwide march on April 25 is against the proposed new labour bills which will introduce a national minimum wage of R20 an hour and constrain workers’ right to strike.