SHONGOANE — Workers of Thompsons Khusela Roads and Signage, which is a subcontractor to Road Mark, who is responsible for renovations on the R518 (Marken Road), downed tools from Saturday 20 May, crying foul about mistreatment by their company.
They say the problem started on Friday 19 May when they were served with notice that their services will end on 31 May 2017.
Kagiso Shiko, a team leader at the road construction project, says their contracts end on 1 July 2017 and they feel the company used tactics to force them to work overtime so as to reach target ahead of time and thus terminate them early on the grounds of their contracts having ended.
Shiko says they informed their supervisor that they needed clarity after going through item 4 on the letter of termination of contract, which says the company will avail a reference letter and UI19 in June.
“We need a programme of action. We need to know the date for medical exit, service payment – including payment of leave and notice – as well as skills development.
We believe that every massive project comes with a budget for skills development. If the company fails to develop the community they must at least develop the workers. They must adhere to that” says Shiko.
The disgruntled workers, who have signed an affidavit to show solidarity, told Mogol Post they did not want to be addressed by Inland Contract’s Manager, George Rademeyer.
When Mogol Post arrived at Shongoane 1, Rademeyer had already left.
They say the reasons they did not want him to address them include the fact that their work transport is a safety hazard as it is an open base truck where they sit on steel and are together with equipment like board signs; they receive no payslips and the deductions on their salaries, usually R29.40 per hour, are inconsistent; unfair retrenchment, where notice was less than 14 days; no skills development and they suffer under his leadership.
They would have preferred to be addressed by the HR Manager.
They allege to have worked 11 hours per shift, Monday to Saturday and though in this regard they agreed as per the contract, their concern is that sometimes they would leave site at 22:00 and never got the benefits in return – therefore they felt exploited.
Shiko further said: “We also had a colleague who was victimised after being absent for two days in his twelve shifts, resulting in him getting a much lower salary than what he was due. Another strange thing is that they pay us normal rates for overtime work. We have also seen that they change the hours of work done, deducting them to result in lower wages” he said.
Rademeyer confirmed Thompsons Khusela is a subcontractor for Road Mark and they do not do production but provide safety on site.
“This was a six month project and from February, whenever there was an issue, it would be raised by team leaders like Kagiso and we always engaged on the matters. Their current protest is unfair and unlawful. Road Mark gave Thompsons Khusela notice and we started issuing notice to our workers.
By law, a temporary worker (working from 1-6 months) can get one weeks’ notice” says Rademeyer.
He added that suddenly demands were made, like wellness programmes which they didn’t offer.
According to Rademeyer, there will be payment for 10 days and leave before the end of the project. He said as soon as the project is done workers will do their medical exit.
“We trained three people for Traffic Safety Officers. The trained people were willing to help every time and are also willing to work in future. In addition, there was flag-man training as they are doing closures for the main contractor” says Rademeyer.
He said the company was not obliged to offer transport and workers agreed to use the truck that carries work material.
“My issue is when workers have concerns to raise they must do so in a professional way instead of stopping production. The workers are not barred from having representatives who will sit in the board room with management to discuss matters while work on the ground continues” he concluded.
Rademeyer says now the company has lost five working days production money and there are plant hire costs and loans which are paid daily.
At the time of going to print, Mogol Post was reliably told that the senior HR from Head Office had attended a meeting with the workers, with Rademeyer present.