Labour brokers must go

We work at Concor Engineering, Amalgam in Johannesburg. We welcome this opportunity to tell you why we want labour brokers outlawed.

We started work at this company on the following dates:Elija Vele, boilermaker – 1979Venen Mashiane, machine operator – 1982Solly Matsimela, crane operator – 1986

At the beginning of March 1992, the company closed the workshop. The company is an engineering firm which manufactures boilers. It retrenched more than 100 production workers, human resources employees, from the manager to the sweeper. The company was left with just the clerical workers and the directors.

They called us back at the end of March to come and work. We did not know we would be contracted to the labour broker called PESA CC. It didn’t last a year.
The contract was terminated and we lost our jobs. When we went to try and claim UIF and our benefits from the provident fund, we were told that the company had not paid. But the company was making deductions of these items from our pay.

From 1993, Macs Africa was contracted. This contract didn’t last until the end of the year. We lost our jobs and once again when we tried to claim our provident fund and UIF we were told the same thing – the company had made deductions but these were not paid across to the institutions concerned.

We were then contracted by Broadmark CC. This also didn’t last for a year and once again the contract was terminated without us receiving all our benefits.

In 1994, De Lange and Association contracted us. Later on it changed its name to 555 CC. We worked for them from 1995 until December 2001. When our contracts were terminated, we found out that the company had gone into liquidation.

We then joined Numsa to try and fight these problems. Numsa, instituted a claim on our behalf but to this day, and despite receiving an award from the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC), we have never received anything from the company in terms of benefits due to us ie service leave, paid leave.

However, by now we had learnt that we need to check with the labour broker on an ongoing basis that the labour broker was paying to the UIF and for our provident fund. Because of this when we lost our contract most of us did receive some benefits.

In January 2002, the company hired another two labour brokers – JD Bester and HBL CC.

In the same year in December, the company terminated their contract with HBL contract. This resulted in about 40 workers losing their jobs.

When the company tried to put these 40 workers under JD Bester, HBL refused to allow them, citing an agreement in the contract with the company which prevented another labour broker from taking workers for 90 days. For 90 days these 40 workers had no jobs while the company and the labour broker fought about these issues.

After the 90 days these workers were then contracted to JD Bester CC. From 2005, the employees started to investigate their benefits (UIF and provident fund). We found that all the cheques sent to the MEIBC bounced. Some of the employees passed away, others who left their jobs are still struggling to claim those benefits.

Since we lodged the problem with MEIBC, there is an agreement between JD Bester and the MEIBC to pay the outstanding amount but we are still waiting. At this moment the total workforce is more or less 150 employees. From these 150 employees, 10 employees are permanent, all the rest are contracted to the labour broker.

Since we started working in this company, we have never worked for other companies. We have done the same job all these years and in the same premises.

While being contracted through all these labour brokers we have never received any training. We have tried to ask them but they always refuse.

Employment equity is also non-existent. Our experience is that only if you are skilled do you become a permanent worker and because we are denied training we can never improve our skills and become permanent.

There is another very important way in which we are disadvantaged. Permanent workers are allowed to use their provident fund as collateral for housing. However, because financial institutions regard us as temporary workers they do not agree to lending us money for housing.

Neither can we get cards from institutions like Woolworths, JET etc. Just recently a worker contracted to the labour broker with us was denied a loan from the bank to purchase a car. The bank said that his contract was just for a year.

This despite the fact that most of us have worked in the same company, in the same workshop, doing the same job, for more than 20 years, some of us more than 30 years and we know that our contracts will be renewed again at the beginning of next year.

All the times that we are contracted with these labour brokers we have tried to find their offices, but we have failed. When we found the office (an office in the owner’s house) of HBL CC, the owner tried to put his dogs on us.

We went to the police station and came back with the police van and only then did they agree to talk to us and try to sort out our problems of UIF and provident fund.

The problem with many labour brokers is that they are a one-man show, operating from their private homes.

They have no assets in terms of factories, equipment etc. If for any reason they default on payment of our UIF, provident fund deductions, if they are liquidated, there is little chance of workers ever receiving the money that has been deducted from them.

In the MEIBC agreement with engineering employers there is an agreement that after four years of continuous service with the same employer, workers will receive an extra weeks paid leave.

Since being moved to the labour broker, our service has been interrupted thus denying us this benefit. In all the times that we have worked with all these labour brokers, we only received this benefit when we were contracted to De Lange.

Yours sincerely

Elija Vele – 072 834 7366Venen Mashiane – 072 773 9757Solly Matsimela – 078 323 2615c/o Concor Engineering, 1 Basalt Avenue, Amalgam, 200121 August 2009


Numsa News