The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Tuesday it had met the Gupta family over concerns that staff at its company may be the victims of collateral damage from political battles.
Cosatu spokesman Sizwe Pamla said the federation had made it clear that staff should not bear the brunt of by decisions by financial institutions to sever ties with Gupta family linked businesses. in the past few days, several finance houses — Absa, FNB, Nedbank, Sasfin and KPMG — have revealed that they have severed ties with entities owned by the Guptas.
On Monday, Cosatu described this ” as political posturing” by the finance institutions. It said despite the federation’s own concerns about the family, staff at its companies could be prejudiced by decisions that were not backed by due process. On Tuesday, Mr Pamla said Cosatu had asked the Gupta family to approach bodies such as the Financial Services Board (FSB) and Competition Commission for redress. “We made it clear they owe workers more than what you have done so far, and you can’t just act like victims,” he said. At the same time, Cosatu would seek its own engagement with the banks, while also engaging with workers and its affiliated unions in the relevant sectors, such as the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU), he said.
In a letter to staff, leaked to the media on Friday‚ Nazeem Howa, CEO of the Gupta-controlled Oakbay Investments, said: “It is with deep regret‚ that following a period of sustained political attack on the Gupta family and our businesses‚ and by extension‚ you our employees‚ we have come to the conclusion that it is time for the Gupta family to step down from all executive and nonexecutive positions. In doing this‚ the family hopes to end the campaign against Oakbay and save all of our jobs.”
His statement followed the resignation of non-executive chairman Atul Gupta and CEO Varun Gupta. President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma quit as non-executive director of Shiva Uranium‚ a major subsidiary of the company.
Mr Howa said Oakbay’s executive committee and the CEOs of each of the businesses would continue to oversee the day-to-day management and running of the business and all portfolio companies.
Oakbay is at the centre of the “Guptagate” storm over the president’s close association with the Gupta family‚ which has been accused of “interviewing” for positions in Mr Zuma’s cabinet. Oakbay Investments is the holding company for several Gupta-related subsidiaries.
Mr Howa said 7,500 jobs were under threat because the businesses could not operate without bank accounts.
The Gupta family’s businesses span media, computers, mining and engineering. The family’s first venture into South Africa was the establishment of Sahara Computers and Sahara Systems (Pty) Ltd. In mining, its interests include Oakbay Resources and Energy: Uranium and gold mining and processing company, the Shiva Uranium Mine, Tegeta Exploration and Resources, Westdawn Investments (Pty) Ltd t/a JIC Mining Services and Black Edge Exploration.
Its media interests are centred on TNA Media (Pty) Ltd, including The New Age newspaper and ANN7 (African News Network), a 24-hour news channel.[Source: Business Day Live]