Furniture shop breaks labour law

Khangale Makhado

Khangale Makhado

A well-known furniture retailer could find itself on the wrong side of the law after the Department of Labour yesterday accused it of exposing its employees to danger.

The department yesterday ordered Lewis Furnishers in Thabazimbi to shut down its warehouse with immediate effect after it was found that two employees there exposed to serious dangers.

The department's Peter Mangale said his team visited the warehouse following an anonymous tip-off.

They were told that the workers at the warehouse were locked in throughout the day and had to send "please call me" SMSes to their bosses at the furniture shop each time they wanted to relieve themselves.

The workers had told the department that sometimes their bosses took as long as 30 minutes to come to their aid.

The department visited the warehouse and found the two employees locked inside.

"We asked them to send an SMS to their bosses to say they wanted to relieve themselves.

"We were shocked to discover that it took those responsible 30 minutes to arrive at the warehouse to help the workers.

"The place is packed with furniture being painted or wrapped for removals.

"Those items alone can cause very serious damage if there is fire.

"I shudder to imagine what would happen if a fire were to break out and the people were locked inside waiting for up to 30 minutes to be let out," said Mangale.

He said the department was worried by rumours that the company was contemplating dismissing the two warehouse employees.

Lewis was ordered to remove the workers from the warehouse, until emergency exits had been installed.

"We are going back there to interview them and take sworn statements in connection with these rumours," Mangale said.