Briefs: Life in the tough lane

Workers of this country went all out to liberate this country. But unfortunately many are still suffering, they are highly exploited and haunted by this skeleton – outsourcing.

A particular company X has outsourced two departments – one company, company A owned by a black person, does quality sorting of tins for foodstuffs, the other, company B, does quality control of perfumes. Those employed by company A are paid between R1500 and R2500 per month.

Workers at company B complain that they don’t have a basic salary. “We are earning on a commission basis depending on how many pallets we have completed,” said one worker. “We work from 6am to 6pm from Monday to Saturday. We earn from R182 to R382 per week and for most of us, that’s less than R1 000 per month.”

Their employer also could be flouting the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. Workers describe how they share their daily commission with those that are off sick because they are not given sick leave.

Safety is another aspect that workers complain about. “You must use your old shoes as safety boots,” workers say. “Overalls are sold for R50 a pair and R100 per t-shirt with buttons.”

And for those that are injured, there is no workmen’s compensation. “Last week one lady was struck by a forklift on her hips,” says a worker. “But she was told not to report the case to anyone otherwise she would be dismissed.”

Another worker is still sick after three pallets fell on top of her. “She also told me not to tell anyone because if the big bosses hear this they close down the sub (contractor) and everyone will have to lose their jobs.”

Workers suspect that when the inspector did come to inspect the workplace, that that was the day “we were ordered to go back home and take one day off. Maybe our employer was afraid for inspectors to see our working environment.”

This is just one of the ‘outsourced/insourced’ workplaces that the Western Transvaal region has highlighted for recruitment. Since July, the region has recruited 445 outsourced workers in Iscor. Companies exploiting their workers must be challenged!