In 2011 coordinators dealt with 141 cases of labour issues that made up 2.5% of their caseload. Staff aim to prevent the exploitation of employees, providing them with information about their rights and obligations, and the correct action to be taken in cases of unfair labour practices. This involves working closely with the Department of Labour, and The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Typical issues are unfair dismissal, non-payment of salaries, wages and retrenchment packages, work conditions, overtime pay, leave, unemployment insurance and injury.

Khanyi Singh, Jan 2007: Non-Payment of Salary

A client came in saying her employer had not paid her December salary and that he keeps on telling her that he will come to her house and pay her. He also told her to go on a short leave but he did not tell her for how long. I wrote a letter and gave it to my client and told her to go and give it to her employer. I also told her to come and report back to me.

My client came to my office on 17th January and she told me that her employer had gone to her house and paid her and told her to come back to work at the beginning of March 2007.

 “I deal with a lot of cases to do with claiming unemployment benefit, and the problem people have is that if people don’t claim it within 3 to 6 months, they can’t get it at all.”  
                                                - Coordinator Zodwa Maramane

Nokuthula Mchunu, June 2007:

Exploitation of Labourer

A 43 year old man from Mangwaneni Location came to the office. He said he Labourerhad been working at a farm since 2006. His foreman asked him to do what he wasn’t hired to do, he asked him to do labour work instead of driving as usual. He refused because he knew his job description. The foreman told him to stop coming to work until he meets with his manager. He felt this wasn’t fair and that is why he came to this office.

I phoned my client’s employer asking about this matter. He told me that he wasn’t aware of this matter. He told me to contact the foreman since he had left him in charge. I phoned the foreman and he told me that my client should come back to work because he wasn’t fired. The client returned to his job.

 ”In my experience in dealing with officials I think they (the coordinators) are the best, they make time for you and give you the right information and tell you where things went wrong. These people at the Centre care.”

– Client, 2007 Impact Study

Patricia Maphanga, Sept 2007:

Compensation after an Accident at Work

LabourerA client who works at a farm near Pholela School came in. She said she works with machines there. One day the machine caught the plank and it broke her arm. The employer was not at work that day so she went to report to him the following day. When she told him what had happened, he told her that in was not hit by a plank but that she had been drunk. She gave me his telephone number and asked if I could help.

I phoned the employer and advised him to report the incident because he does not know what actually happened as he was not there when the accident took place. The employer then filled in the compensation form and my client went to the doctor and will send the forms to the Department Of Labour. The case was referred to the Department of Labour.

Zodwa Maramane, May-June 2008: Client dismissed for Drunkenness
Dismissed worker
A client aged 40 and residing at Gomane Ward reported that he was dismissed by Spoornet in Johannesburg because he had a drinking problem and was given notice because of his absenteeism. In March he was to attend a disciplinary hearing but he did not go. When he came back from Impendle he was given a dismissal letter. It stated that the dismissal decision was taken against him. He was unable to go back to Johannesburg because he had no money. Another employee gave him R300 for taxi fare.

I counselled the client and explained that I could not fight his employer because drinking at work is grounds for dismissal. What I could help him with was to claim unemployment benefits and monies that had not been paid to him i.e. wages and leave monies. After I phoned Spoornet he was paid R6 000.

LabourersI also asked for the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) forms. They faxed them to me but on the forms they had written that he had absconded, which would have disqualified him from claiming from the UIF. I phoned them and asked them to send forms with the correct information because he has a dismissal letter which entitles him to collect from the UIF. They faxed the correct forms to me.

The client was given the correct forms showing that he had been dismissed. He then went to the Labour Department to collect his unemployment benefits.

(Left) Labourers in farming communities such as these young men are often the victims of employers that don’t respect workers’ rights






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