Meat Traders workers claim unfair dismissal

Former Meat Traders employees who believe they were unfairly dismissed for various reasons have taken up the matter with the Human Rights Centre in King William’s Town.

The employees’ grievances range from ill-treatment by the business’ human resources manager and supervisors, contractual issues and the non-payment of overtime work, among others.

Last month, 15 employees were dismissed after they allegedly tested positive for being drunk on the job, a matter which the affected staff said was conducted in a dodgy manner as they claim that one test kit was used on all of them.

A recently dismissed worker, Yanga Mazwai, said he lost his job earlier this month when he was called to a disciplinary hearing for allegedly using the business’ vehicle outside his working hours.

“I have a duty to take workers home when we knock off at 7pm and I did that as usual and signed at the security gate as mandated. I was dismissed because apparently I should not have taken workers home which is another issue we workers had because our contracts do not clearly state our duties or indicate how much we are supposed to be paid and when we started work.”

On the matter of workers found to have been drunk on the job, Mazwai said the 15 workers reeked of alcohol because they had been drunk the previous day which he said was a normal occurrence.

“We have since approached the labour department but have not reverted to us with feedback on our case. This is why we resorted to the Human Rights Centre because the department responsible to fight for the rights of employees is not co-operating with us,” he said.

Another former employee, Lubabalo Hokolo, said he and 38 other employees were dismissed towards the end of last year for fighting for an adequate minimum wage.

“After we raised the issue of our wages, the employer cut our working hours and we ended getting even less take-home money. People could not afford to pay rent and other expenses and we took the employer to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMMA) which did not help us much either, and that is what led to our dismissal.”

Human Rights Centre director Matshaya Maki said the institution wrote a letter of demand to Meat Traders stipulating that they must offer acceptable employment contracts as required in the labour relations act.

“We have elevated the matter to the office of the Public Protector (PP) because the dismissed workers received the run-around from the labour department when they approached it, and we are challenging them for not doing their job. We expect to get responses from the PP’s office next week and we will take it from there.”

Meat Traders director Jack Miles could not be reached for comment since last week.

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