Trade union locks horns with Armscor

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Armscor, the State-owned company financed to a large extent by the national defence budget, faces a raft of allegations including abuse of power and bullying.

The allegations by the Armscor branch of NEHAWU (National Education Health and Allied Workers Union) are refuted by the defence and security acquisition agency, which spends over 70% of its funding allocation on salaries.

A three-page letter addressed to Armscor board chair Phillip Dexter and company secretary Mampe Kumalo raises a string of allegations, dismissed by Armscor in response to a defenceWeb enquiry. According to Advocate Ndodomzi Mvambo, Group Executive: Corporate Support, “issues raised in the (NEHAWU) letter do not warrant the board’s involvement” adding the board “would not want to involve itself in the day-to-day affairs of Armscor as this is a prerogative of management”.

The Armscor branch of NEHAWU is, in Mvambo’s response, “urged to follow internal grievance procedures to resolve allegations of abuse of power, harassment, demotions, etc. as well as through the NEHAWU recognition
agreement”.

In its letter titled “Request for investigation on (sic) the CEO of Armscor SOC (Advocate Solomzi Mbada)”, the trade union gives abuse of power; ignoring a previous instruction to investigate the group executive responsible for research and development, “general harassment of employees”; “conflict of interest by the CEO”; abandoning “the officially approved turnaround strategy” and intimidating trade union office bearers as reasons for the investigation.

On the conflict of interests issue, NEHAWU branch secretary Martin Chauke, avers “most law firms contracted by Armscor are alleged to have close ties with the chief executive and other Armscor executive committee members” and “continuous outsourcing of Armscor disputes to virtually incompetent law firms continuously failing to yield positive results for the organisation while continuing to cash on Armscor funds (sic)”.

Armscor’s official line on this is “management has the authority to procure the use of any law firm in line with organisational procurement guidelines and no evidence of conflict has been advanced to warrant an investigation”.

On other NEHAWU allegations in the letter Armscor states: “Most resignations have been a result of the VSP (voluntary severance package) process, misconduct and non-performance, and none of the managers received any grievances based on these departures (sic)”.

The government-owned defence and security acquisition specialist company “reminds” the trade union “its role is neither management related nor can it be inferred they should be consulted in relation to every executive management decision”.

The hand of co-operation is offered by way of a sentence reading: “Management remains committed to engage with labour based on the prescripts of the recognition agreement with the organisation”.