Construction workers in Lesseyton who claim to have been patient with their employer for almost two weeks, downed tools and launched a protest action over the non-payment of salaries on Monday.
Hundreds of workers locked the gates of a Biz Afrika construction site, burning tyres and demanding payment and answers from management.
“We were told we would get our money at the end of last month. That did not happen. We were then informed payments would be processed on October 7. We waited and that did not happen either. There are workers here who come from far flung areas who are renting in this area. They have since been kicked out by their landlords because they did not pay their monthly rental. These poor workers are hungry and have no clue what they are going to do. We have families that we need to take care of,” said sub-contractor Tembisa Melani.
Project steering committee member Liziwe Waxa said there were always glitches when it came to paying the workers what was due. This problem, Waxa said, began sometime in March which forced them to contact officials from the human settlement department to address the angry crowd this week.
When approached by The Rep reporter to enquire about the matter, a site agent who identified himself as Jacob Maloto said the company was working on a solution to try and address the matter, indicating that he could not comment any further.
An official from the department of human settlement by the name of Zwelithini Manjiya arrived at the site to listen to the workers’ grievances. Addressing the employees, Manjiya said the department had experienced delays in paying contractors for the month of September throughout the province. He said the department was experiencing an influx of invoices which was more than the cash flow received from national treasury on a monthly basis. He said this was communicated to the contractors in mid-September.
Manjiya said some of the money due to the construction company was expected last week Monday, with the next batch to reflect between Friday and Saturday. The matter of facilitating the payments was then left with the contractor. A letter addressed to the subcontractors from Biz Afrika management this week stated that the delay was due to the company not receiving payment within the relevant time frames from the department.
“We, however, had a teleconference discussion with relevant representatives confirming that we should receive payment that would enable us to pay the relevant sub-contractors. Upon receiving the outstanding payments all outstanding approved certificates up to the end of September 2021 due to sub-contractors will be paid either this Friday or Monday morning, October 18, depending on when the monies reflect in our accounts.”