Firm makes shock move

HOPELESS: Concelia Phala is now jobless.  05/05/09. © Sowetan.
HOPELESS: Concelia Phala is now jobless. 05/05/09. © Sowetan.

Penwell Dlamini

Penwell Dlamini

An employee reported for duty after taking three weeks' leave only to get the shock of her life.

Cleaner Concelia Phala found her bosses packing office equipment into a removal truck yesterday, leaving her and other workers outside the company gates.

Although Phala, of Springs in Ekurhuleni, is eight months pregnant, she was willing to come to work.

She works as cleaner at Santini's Bus Builders - a bus manufacturing company in Nuffield, Springs. The company builds buses for firms such as Gauteng coaches.

Phala has only been paid a quarter of her salary in the past eight months. This was not enough to support her two children - aged 15 and seven.

Phala and the other 86 workers were uncertain of their next move.

Santini's managing director Hannes Coetzee did not return calls fromSowetan yesterday.

Themba Nkabinde, a shop steward who has been with the company for 21 years, said: "Things started to fall apart last year when we were not paid our wages as usual."

He said management told them they were waiting to seal a deal with a Gabon company.

In April they were not paid their wages a day before the Easter weekend.

Nkabinde and his colleagues tried to stop the truck but were not successful.

National Union of Metal Workers Association local coordinator, Mandla Jele, was also disturbed by the company's action.

"Santini told us that the landlord of the property in which they operated from had expelled them from the premises and they had to leave immediately," said Jele who expressed some doubts.

He said he was scheduled to meet the company's bosses today to discuss the workers' plight.