Workers down tools

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

Workers at a brick manufacturing company in Zebediela outside Polokwane have downed tools after accusing the management of not increasing their salaries for the past five years.

The more than 140 workers stopped working on January 7 when management allegedly refused to enter into salary negotiations with the South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu), which has been trying in vain to convince the company's management to heed the workers' call.

This also resulted in the intervention of the local chief, Sello Kekana, but management is said to have continued to turn a deaf ear.

"We stopped work after exhausting all avenues with regards to the increment of our salaries," said Cliff Mogotlane, who claimed the company was exploiting its workers by forcing them to work extra hours without being remunerated.

Mogotlane said he earned R1600 a fortnight as a driver, while his assistant only earned R600 for the same period of time.

"On top of the total earnings for drivers, the company also deducts money which it claims is for the diesel used in transporting their own goods for the benefit of the company.

"Management also deducts money for cellphones and for the tyres of the lorries we drive. All these are the company's property and not ours," a fuming Mogotlane said.

He said they worked overtime and also on weekends without being paid.

"The company gives us a target to reach and it is becoming increasingly more difficult for all of us to reach it. We demand that this target system be done away with," he said.

Mogotlane urged the Department of Labour to visit the company to see for themselves the conditions under which they are forced to work.

"We are even forced to use our own clothes because the company is failing to provide us with, for example, safety boots, and no one gets compensated for injuries sustained in the line of work," he explained.

Seth Marodi, the company's human resources manager, refused to comment and referred this reporter to the transport manager, Pierre Theuns who was not available at the time of going to print.