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Workers puzzled by firm’s failure to pay salaries

Published Oct 23, 2023


Despite a successful claim at the CCMA after months of not being paid, former employees of American-based company Virtual Benefit Solutions (VBS) Healthcare Hearing Clinic say they continue to face financial uncertainty as the company has yet to settle the award which was due almost a month ago.

The former employees say they are also struggling to get their UI19 forms filled by the employer so they could claim their unemployment benefit from the Department of Labour.

A complaint from medical billers Nomampondomise Nhonho and Bulelani Maqhekeza was heard at the CCMA at its Western Cape offices on September 7.

They had been working at the company since April last year and said everything went well until they were not paid their salaries in June, followed by July and August, a month before their contracts were due to expire.

“Initially we were told it was because of the company merging with the manufacturing side of Virtual Benefit Solutions. Hence the new payday would be on the 30th of June 2023 instead. The date came and went without any payment. Then the money was being investigated by the bank. On July 3, they told us to leave the office at 12 and not worry we will receive our salaries. They said we should stay home until further notice.

"The company then promised that we would receive payment on July 25, 2023. Then by pay day the story changed, they were waiting on investors," said Nhonho.

CCMA Commissioner Willem Connan found in the former employees’ favour.

“I have no reason to doubt applicants claims as demonstrated during their evidence under oath. Hence, I am satisfied that applicants have established their claims for money owed to them,” Connan said.

Nhonho and Maqhekezawas were awarded R36 262, 29 and R31 800 respectively.

VBS was ordered to pay them by close of business on September 22, however the two said they are still waiting for payment.

“To be honest, when I think about this I just get emotional. I don’t even know how to feel anymore, the situation is draining. One takes it one step at a time, we don’t know how to make ends meet because currently we are unemployed and I am a single mother.

If they just pay my money and I get my UI19 at least it would put me in a better financial position, I have outstanding rentals to pay,” said Nhonho.

They have since received an enforcement award from the CCMA for the sheriff to attach immovable goods to cover the costs of the award.

The Department of Labour noted that it would look into the matter concerning the U19 forms.

The CCMA said it would respond in due course in terms of its next steps to enforce compliance.

VBS did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.

Cape Times