Image hosted by

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Press Release: Independent Newspapers and Outsourcing


The Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) and its affiliates, together with the workers of Capacity Outsourcing, have formed a Capacity Workers Support Committee to galvanise solidarity for the workers’ struggle against the vicious exploitation and oppression of Capacity Outsourcing, a labour brokering company used by Independent Newspapers Holding Limited, situated at 47 Sauer Street, Johannesburg. (**Please see extensive history and demands below**)

We are calling on all progressive organisations/movements, individuals and journalists to rally behind the Capacity Outsourcing Workers to assist us in exposing what is happening at Independent Newspapers. The Capacity Workers Support Committee is continuing with its mass action against Capacity Outsourcing.

· On 9th November, pickets are going to be held at the offices of Independent Newspapers (47 Sauer Street – Johannesburg) and the offices of Johnnic Communications (4 Biermann Avenue, Rosebank)
· On 16th November, there will be a mass march to the offices of Independent Newspapers, demanding that the managing director of ‘The National Printing Company’, as well as ADCORP Holdings (the owners of Capacity Outsourcing) Executive Chairperson - Dr Frederick Van Zyl Slabbert - receive the memorandum

We are calling on organisations and individuals to support this mass action and to do the following:

· Stop buying newspapers in the Independent stable - The Star, Cape Argus, Pretoria News, Daily News, The Mercury, Post, Saturday Star, Sunday Tribune, The Sunday Independent, Cape Times, Saturday Argus, Sunday Argus, Business Report, Personal Finance and Sunday Life
· Write articles to these newspapers expressing outrage and demanding a stop to the violation of workers rights
· Write e-mails, fax or telephone Dr Van Zyl Slabbert expressing outrage and demanding that he stops the violation of workers rights : e-mail:, Fax : 011 889-0638, Tel : 011 889-0633
· Target any public appearance of Dr Van Zyl Slabbert, exposing his company
· Write e-mails to the Managing Director of ‘The National Printing Company’, Bernard Briggs, expressing outrage : e-mail –
· Write e-mails to the Directors of Johnnic: e- mail
· Engage in any other public support.


Since the introduction of Capacity Outsourcing in 2004 by ‘The National Printing Company’ (TNPC), a company owned by Independent Newspapers, workers have been subjected to extreme forms of exploitation and violation of their rights.

In 2004, Independent Newspapers, through TNPC, retrenched more than 250 permanent workers, who were then only to be re-employed by labour brokers. The first labour broker was Capital Outsourcing. This labour broker was kicked out and later replaced by another, called Capacity Outsourcing. The only reason why TNPC first retrenched workers and then re-employed them under the labour broker was to cheapen the labour of workers and thereby drive down the wages and other benefits of the workers. This is precisely what happened.

Under Independent Newspapers, workers used to earn R1500-00 per week and had a medical aid and a retirement fund. Now under the labour broker, Capacity Outsourcing, workers earn between R750-R800 per week and have neither medical aid nor a retirement fund. Workers wages were thus reduced by almost 100% and in fact they are earning, in 2007, the wages that they received in 1982. Besides these exploitative conditions, workers are also subjected to constant ill-treatment at the hands of supervisors of both Independent Newspapers and Capacity Outsourcing


Recently, Capacity Outsourcing has embarked upon a campaign of intimidation, harassment and victimisation of members of the General Industries Workers Union of SA (GIWUSA). The company is attempting to get rid of the union because it has consistently, over the years, been fighting against the exploitation of workers.

Capacity Outsourcing is a company that violates agreements and workers' rights. On the 5th September 2007, GIWUSA signed an agreement with Capacity Outsourcing which states that non-core workers must be employed on the basis of date of service. The management basically ignored this agreement, called workers individually to sign a performance based, market street roster and told them that if they wanted to be selected they must resign from GIWUSA. Workers are being told that they need to resign from GIWUSA otherwise there is no place for them at Independent Newspapers. The management has done this behind the back of GIWUSA and implemented a performance based selection criteria that is premised on the subjective opinions of the supervisors. The agreement also states that four female comrades must be made part of the core staff on day-shift. Again the management ignored this agreement and sent these comrades home regularly.


Capacity Outsourcing has, for the third time, suspended the shop steward, Bongani Ntuli. His alleged crime is allowing the unauthorised entry of a GIWUSA official. The fact of the matter is that the GIWUSA official attended a meeting with union members - notices for the meeting were posted on the notice boards, a letter was written to the management about the meeting and the security guard granted access to the premises. This has been the normal procedure followed for all previous union meetings at Independent Newspapers.

Additionally, Capacity Outsourcing has added a fourth charge against Comrade Ntuli. The charge reads as follows: "You are accused of deliberately distributing derogatory information about the company in that: During your demonstrations and/or picketing at Johnnic Communications on 11 October 2007, you were seen handing out pamphlets containing

information that is derogatory and offensive to the good name of the company. Your conduct is unacceptable as it constitutes breach of good faith upon which your employment at Capacity is based."

First, Capacity Outsourcing undermines workers' rights to belong to a trade union of their choice by forcing them to resign from GIWUSA. Now, it has gone a step further to suppress the freedom of expression of its employees. This fourth charge is nothing but an attempt to silence workers. Capacity Outsourcing wants to stop workers from speaking the truth. Also, it seems that the company is of the view that if they remove the shop steward from the shop-floor then the problems of workers will somehow evaporate. The thinking of management appears to be one of removing the "agitators" and then the rest will be intimidated and problems solved.


At the head of Capacity Outsourcing stands Dr Frederick van Zyl Slabbert, an erstwhile democrat and liberal. Capacity Outsourcing is wholly owned by ADCORP Holdings Group and the executive chairperson of ADCOPR Holdings is Dr Frederick Van Zyl Slabbert, the former leader of the forerunner of the DA, the Progressive Federal Party (PFP). ADCORP Holdings specialises in labour broking.

The other day, Van Zyl Slabbert formed part of an independent panel assessing whether parliament and its parliamentary portfolio committees are carrying out their democratic mandate. What right and credentials does Van Zyl Slabbert have to ensure that the Constitution is observed in relation to parliament but the company which he is heading is violating basic Constitutional rights?


It is evident that Independent Newspapers has employed the labour broker, Capacity Outsourcing, to undercut the wages and benefits of workers and thereby obtain cheap labour. Independent Newspapers is also using the labour broker to control workers through a workplace regime of ill-treatment and job insecurity so that maximum production can be extracted from workers. GIWUSA has found that the labour broker is impotent to address workers issues because they are under the control and direction of Independent Newspapers. No issue or problem can be addressed by the labour broker without the consent of Independent Newspapers.

In reality, though workers are legally contracted to Capacity Outsurcing, they are very much still under the control, supervision and direction of Independent Newspapers. The latter is hiding behind the labour broker. These practices are similar to many other companies where labour brokers are used by employers. In fact, in South Africa, employers are using labour brokers to create a workplace environment where job insecurity is rife and wages are reminiscent of that under apartheid.

In 2005, a year or two after TNPC retrenched its permanent staff and used the services of labour brokers like Capacity Outsourcing, Independent Newspapers (SA) became 'the star performer of the INM Group ( Independent News and Media Plc)'. It delivered a staggering "34,8 % increase in operating profit to Euro 41.8 million". It also boasted that operating margins at Independent News and Media (SA) increased to 18,8%. This substantial increase is attributed to "a combination of a strong double digit improvement in total revenues and the benefits of strong cost containment initiatives”. These cost containment involved the massive retrenchment of permanent staff and the use of an exploitative labour broker, Capacity Outsourcing.


TNPC is a partnership jointly owned by Johnnic and Independent Newspapers. This makes Johnnic an accomplice in the violation of workers' basic rights. Every day, workers print, pack and wrap the various newspapers, but their basic rights of freedom to join a trade union of their choice, freedom of expression and right to decent work are being violated.

Expose the hypocrisy!! We are outraged that Independent Newspapers and Johnnic are continuing to tolerate and encourage the violation of the basic constitutional rights of workers by its labour broker. TNPC through its various newspapers, cries foul whenever restrictions are placed on journalists' right to publish critical articles. But in its own back-yard it tolerates these unconstitutional acts. This duplicity and hypocrisy must be exposed.


*That Independent Newspapers gets rid of Capacity Outsourcing and makes the employment of its workers permanent.
*That all the grievances raised by workers be addressed speedily.
*That the victimisation, harassment and ill-treatment of workers be stopped immediately.
*That TNPC gives workers a direct response to these demands.
*That TNPC meet with workers and their representatives to discuss these demands.

We will appreciate a copy of any solidarity e-mail or article.

For further comment/information contact:

John Appolis –

Issued by the Capacity Workers Support Committee



  • Outsourcing is when you hire outside professionals or services to take on part of your business workload. You may want to outsource part of your work because you don't have the room, you need an expert, you have periodic busy periods, or you need more production to get orders out on time, etc. There are many ways outsourcing can save your business time and money.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 8:44 am  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home