Residents burn tyres and rubble near Siqalo in protest over unpaid salaries
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Cape Town - A group of employees from a cleaning company, working for the City on a tender, barricaded Jakes Gerwel Drive and Highlands Drive, near Siqalo informal settlement in Mitchells Plain, with burning tyres and rubble on Tuesday, over alleged unpaid salaries.
The 18 Bhebhetha Holdings employees claimed that they were meant to be paid on April 30, however, a week later, there hasn't been any communication from the employer.
The employees clean and collect rubble in the Siqalo area.
Team leader Hazel Geduld said they have decided to protest and blocked the road, as this has become the norm for the company.
“We were supposed to get paid on Friday and then we told that on we would be paid Monday, but that didn't happen. We tried communicating, but their representative told us that she was afraid to come here and promised us that we are going to be paid.
“We have now taken it upon ourselves to close the road to get their attention and engage us. This is not the first time our payments are delayed. In January, we received our salaries days after the pay day. They did engage with us at the time, and we understood that they were experiencing some financial difficulties, but they cannot do it for the second time and not engage with us,” she said.
Geduld said these late payments had resulted in the employees defaulting on their financial commitments.
“We are breadwinners and we cannot even pay our debit orders, our children are also suffering because of this. We are now forced to go to loan sharks to borrow money, and pay it back with interest.
“This is not the life we want to live, not being sure whether we will be paid in a particular day or not. Initially, we were told that the company had borrowed some funds just to pay us for only this area. However, we do not know which other areas they are operating on,” she said.
Bhebhethaa Holdings area manager Nandi Yandi confirmed that the employees were paid. She said there was a delay on the company’s side.
“We have shown them proof of the immediate payments we have made and they have agreed to stop the protest. The employees are constantly consulted when they are not paid on time, and only 18 of the 489 employees have decided to protest over this,” she said.