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Disgruntled workers strike over salaries

By unknown | Mar 31, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Disgruntled workers at Ismail Mall Mohammed pharmacy in Pinetown embarked on a massive strike, demanding a living wage and better working conditions.

Owner Ismail Mohammed runs a chain of pharmacies in KwaZulu-Natal. He has outlets in Durban, Pinetown and Pietermaritzburg.

Mohammed made headlines a few years ago when his assets were frozen after allegations that he submitted fraudulent claims on behalf of Bonitas medical aid members to Medscheme - amounting to R2,8 million.

Some of the assets that were frozen included three properties registered in his name, nine bank accounts and 18 vehicles.

The striking workers yesterday complained about the poor working conditions. They also alleged that Mohammed assaulted them and that he sometimes pointed a firearm at them. Most of the workers claimed to have been working for Mohammed for more than a decade, but are still earning less than R700 a week.

When Sowetan arrived at Mohammed's offices in Pinetown where workers had gathered, he locked the offices and fled the scene in a luxury car.

One of the workers, Xolani Hadebe, said he has been working for the pharmacist for 12 years and earns R430 a week. He said last year, he worked overtime and when he demanded his money, Mohammed allegedly assaulted him.

"I opened a case with police, but it has been dragging on since last year and you can read between the lines why it is so."

Another employee, Jennifer Phewa, said she has been working for Mohammed for 14 years and earns a lousy R620 a week.

Among their grievances, the workers also complained that they have not had an increase since 2007, and they have not yet received a bonus for last year.

Mohammed refused to comment on the matter .


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