Butchery denies 'caging' staff
Seemann’s Finest Quality Meats‚ which was accused of “caging” its staff during lunch breaks‚ preventing them from leaving the premises in Johannesburg‚ would welcome an inspection by the department of labour.
“If we are inadvertently contravening any regulations – whether related to food safety‚ labour practices or working conditions – we will correct them immediately‚” chief executive Costa Kousiakis told this publication on Monday.
A Johannesburg newspaper reported on Friday that workers at the butchery in Randburg‚ that doubles as a restaurant‚ were placed in a locked “cage” during lunch breaks‚ while patrons dined on a deck above them. The staff stayed there between 7am and 5pm. The Star published a picture of the staff in the “cage”.
“I can see how the area photographed creates the impression that staff are under lock and key‚ but that is simply not the case. It is an area of the facility that is access-controlled‚” Kousiakis said in statement.
He said there was strict access protocol at the food facility.
Kousiakis said it was untrue that staff members could not leave the premises during breaks‚ adding that he was unaware of any dissatisfaction among staff about working conditions. “We take pride in our good working relationship with our staff‚” he said.
When this publication visited the premises on Friday afternoon‚ the caged structure was empty.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said it was “shocked‚ but not surprised” by the alleged ill treatment of workers.
The union said it planned to develop a recruitment campaign in the company which would assist workers in fighting for their rights.
It stressed that if such things were happening‚ it reflected the lack of capacity by the Department of Labour to monitor and enforce its laws.
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