On the Shopfloor – Retrenched worker sets up his own company

Surplus on hold On November 30 2005, the issue of whether the benefit funds in the metal industries fall under the Pension Funds Amendment Act (PFA) or the Labour Relations Act (LRA) will be decided on by the High Court.If the High Court says that the funds fall under the PFA, then the surplus in the funds must be shared between past members, pensioners, current members and employers.If it rules that the funds fall under the LRA, then it is up to the parties to decide how to allocate the surplus.However the Financial Services Board (FSB), the government body in charge of overseeing benefit funds, has already said that if the court rules that the LRA governs the distribution of the surplus, it will object to the ruling. And it will go to parliament to amend the law so that all benefit funds fall under the PFA.”So don’t expect your surplus any time soon! The legal process is far from over,” says Thulani Mthiyane, Numsa’s engineering sector coordinator.

Numsa member, Sipheto Dlongwana, a worker at Ziton (Pty) Ltd in Maitland, Cape Town found himself retrenched after the maintenance department where he worked was restructured. However Numsa managed to negotiate for certain handyman services to be outsourced to him for a year as long as he registered as a Closed Corporation (CC). His organiser, Vanessa Le Roux spoke to him.

How did you register yourself as a company?My organiser told me to go to Red Door Project in Khayelitha (a government-supported project to assist small businesses). I paid R390 to open an ABSA account. After one day I got my papers and am now registered as a Closed Corporation called “Bright Ideas”.

Then what happened?I went to SARS to get a tax clearance and ABSA to open a business account. ABSA now want my certificate which must still come from Pretoria.At the Red Door Project, Andile was very helpful and offered to assist me further. The most import issue for me now is to get training on how to tender and manage. I also struggle to quote properly. When I have that I will be able to go forward.

How did your family react to this major decision?I am the breadwinner and my wife is a housewife. When I told them what I want to do they had no problem in supporting me. I am old and won’t get another job. That’s why I made this decision. It’s like Our President Thabo Mbeki said: “vukuzenzele”, meaning wake up and do something.

How do your comrades from Ziton react towards you now?Our Numsa members are very happy, but they still call me to do odd jobs, like fixing their lockers. I have to explain to them that I only have a contract for certain jobs: fumigation, cleaning of fat drain in the canteen, check lights, cleaning filters of air conditioner.I also tender for painting and toilet blockage and garden cleaning or any other handy man job.

What is your message for other Numsa comrades?Don’t sleep! The opportunity is there for us. If you are retrenched, use your money wisely and do something. We can all make a better life for ourselves by starting small.