Durban - The Toyota Prospecton plant was badly damaged when the floods hit KwaZulu-Natal. While it is yet to recover, some employees at the plant allege that they are working two days or even one day a week and being paid hourly.
An employee who spoke on condition of anonymity, for fear of being victimised, told the Daily News that they had expenses and families to take care of and all of this was an inconvenience to them.
He said there was no communication between the management, employees or the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) about the way forward.
“We want to know why our rights are not being considered. We work limited hours, while some employees are working full hours and receiving full payment. That is creating a division among us,” said the worker, an employee of more than 18 years.
He said that the company faced a similar disaster in 2017 but they were not treated “like this”. He described the situation as “inconsiderate from the management’s side”.
He also said that the parent company, which is in Japan, responded differently when that country was hit by the Tsunami in 2011. Workers there were reimbursed in a way fit for disaster management but the company was acting like the floods were of their own doing here, he said. He questioned why the treatment was not the same.
Numsa KwaZulu-Natal regional secretary, Mbuso Ngubane, said it was more like the plant was being rebuilt because of how badly it was hit. He said that pointing fingers was not going to help the situation since everyone was overwhelmed by the impact of the floods, adding that what they needed was co-operation.
“What is primary now is rebuilding the plant and getting it fit for production so that everyone can go back to work. That is impossible if all workers want to do is strike every time there is an issue and not come up with solutions to make matters better,” Ngubane said.
He said they were communicating with certain stakeholders, service providers and the government to intervene in the issue for employees to get a payment holiday. He said they were trying to expedite the process for everything to go back to normal.
Ngubane said what could be causing the poor communication was that it was difficult to engage with workers while they were home.
Talking to eNCA on Monday, Toyota CEO, Andrew Kirby assured the workers that no job would be lost. “Wellness of our employees is our first priority, we have a team making sure that the plant is fixed and everything will be back to normal,” Kirby said.
He also mentioned that they have been helping out families through “this difficult time”.