victory for workers

THE Department of Labour has intervened at a Cape Town beachfront hotel construction site following claims by a group ofworkers of unfair treatment.

Realcor Cape, which is currently building the luxury Raddison Hotel at Bloubergstrand , has been given two months to comply with safety standards.

Sowetan reported about two weeks ago that a group of workers on the site, mainly from Zimbabwe, alleged that they were being assaulted, called baboons and forced to use the "dompas" system when they wanted to go to the toilet.

They also complained of unfair dismissals and being paid less than stipulated in their contracts.

The company has dismissed the allegations.

The department, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and lobby group People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty (Passop) had two meetings with the company.

Following an inspection of the site last week, the department has issued the construction company with an inspection report to improve a number of things.

It has been ordered to affix fire extinguishers and first aid signage boards to relevant locations, have the names of responsible persons displayed and appoint health and safety representatives.

The company was also told that "every employer has to provide his employees with safety footwear, overalls, hard hats, among other things".

In its report, the department said the company must ensure that scaffolding complied with safety standards as stipulated in a regulation of the SA Bureau of Standards.

NUM regional coordinator Patrick Hlengisa said they expected to hold another meeting with the company this week.

He said they expected the company to respond to the various allegations against it.

Hlengisa said about 150 workers, including foreign nationals, had joined the NUM following the Sowetan report.

Passop chairperson Braam Hanekom said they were happy with the intervention of the department and the union.

Sowetan was praised by the workers during a visit to the site last week.

They said that working conditions had improved following the publication of their grievances.

Realcor Cape's Lionel Lylyveld said yesterday that they would address the issues raised by the department.