As the horde of angry workers sang freedom songs on the balcony in front of the human resources department of a workplace, shop stewards approached the factory manageress about the problem of not giving workers copies of their payslips for the annual shutdown. When they spotted her at the reception exit, they asked her, “But Lisa*, where are you going while workers have problems with their pay?” They knew that some of the problems that they had were that they didn’t know what wage they would get so they would be unable to budget correctly for their four weeks’ holiday, they would have to pay magtape charges for their unpaid debit orders. Many of them had set dates for xhosa ceremonies the following day and boys had to be taken to initiation schools and now they didn’t know if they could pay for these activities. Other problems that workers complained of were frequent short payments because of ‘computer errors’. “I am going to the annual shutdown party,” Lisa replied. “Copies of workers’ pay slips will be ready this afternoon. They can fetch their pay at banks tomorrow. There is nothing else I can do, I cannot sign their cheques like I promised this morning,” she said. The party was to thank managerial staff and their secretaries for the wonderful job they had done throughout the year. “Why are you looking so complacent?” one worker fumed. “My wife is waiting next to Jet Stores to take our kids’ lay-byes now. Today the temperature is 33 degrees and I am supposed to be long gone now, copy payslips were supposed to be distributed last Tuesday!” “Do not talk to me like your dog, I am not your dog!,” she responded, turning back to her office. She phoned head office for help. She also contacted the in-plant human resources department to instruct them to intensify security by calling for more private security guards, the police and traffic officers as the best remedy she could offer. As suspected by employees, wrongly calculated payslips were distributed long after knock-off time. These payslips were calculated wrongly by the computer specialist hired from Johannesburg to assist the wage clerk who does not make less than 10 mistakes per week. Some lucky employees received their money on Saturday December 14, unlucky ones were short paid and had to wait until the factory re-opened early this year!
* name has been changed