No up in wages at condom firm for a decade

Langelihle Chagwe

Langelihle Chagwe

Members of the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union picketed outside a condom manufacturing company to back demands for a wage increase.

The 104 placard-carrying employees of Zalatex Surgical Products in Johannesburg are demanding a 13percent increase.

Nomzekelo Rarane, 33, a shop steward, said that for the past 10 years they had not received any pay rise. Rarane said the highest-paid employees took home R960 and the lowest-paid got R600 a month.

"The manager told employees that the company did not have money," said Rarane.

She said that the factory manager Sajeev Joseph had told them they would not get any salary increases.

"We are working 13 hours a day and are exposed to dangerous chemicals," said Rarane.

The employees said they were not allowed to go on maternity leave.

Joseph said the company was not making any profit.

"Presently the company is producing about 400million condoms a day and we need to make more," he said.

Joseph said the employees were working 195 hours a month and earned R6,11 an hour.

He claimed that the company had spoken to the shop steward and union organisers and they had agreed that salary increases would be effected once the company makes a profit.

"I am surprised why workers are picketing. The company got a tender from the government to manufacture condoms. We agreed that we would share the profit with employees."

He said the employees should increase their productivity so that they can get a profit share.