Truck drivers accuse company of owing salaries

SABC News writes that more than 50 truck drivers employed by a logistics company in Ermelo, Mpumalanga, accuse their employer of owing them salaries for several months. The drivers also claim their salaries were cut from R17,000 to R2,000 per month. The company is further accused of failing to comply with the Provident Fund and Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) schemes despite deducting from employees’ salaries.

It is alleged that the frustrated drivers held company management captive a few months ago while demanding their salaries. Police were called to rescue the management team. Since then, some employees have been camping outside the company’s premises day and night. Some of them have worked for the company since 2007. The concerned workers claim they discovered that the company withheld funds meant for UIF and Provident Fund. The drivers say they are unable to feed their families and service their debts.

“We are camping here day and night, and no one is attending to us. We have debts and we can’t afford to pay for our kids to go to school, this month we will not get paid at all,” says one driver. Another driver from Bizana in the Eastern Cape says, “We are no longer allowed to enter the premises, and they have been deducting our monies but not directing it to where they are supposed to be paid. At least they should give us our papers so that we can file claims. We don’t know what to do now.”

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) alleges that the logistics company is claiming to be bankrupt. Spokesperson Amanda Tshemese has accused the company of being dishonest and says they have approached the courts. “What is more disappointing and disgusting is the fact that some of the provincial government officials in Mpumalanga are aware of the situation and yet doing nothing about it, once again failing South Africans. The employer is liquidating the company without engaging with us and our members. It is illegal to do so. We are a recognised labour union and registered at the Department of Labour and Employment. The employer claims to be bankrupt and we are of the view that that is a lie,” says Tshemese.

Tshemese also accuses the owners of exploiting workers and disregarding the country’s labour laws. “We have previously demanded their financial documents and they failed and refused to provide those documents to us. That streams nothing but corruption. It also came to our attention that our members were working irregular hours with no compensation,” she adds. The logistics company has refused to comment at this stage as the matter is sub-judice.

by Mthobisi Mkhaliphi

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