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WATCH: Enough! Census field workers up in arms over lack of payment for services

Published Mar 24, 2022


Video: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG – Census field workers in Ekurhuleni have threatened to withdraw whatever is left of their services over lack of payment.

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This comes as Statistics South Africa has allegedly failed to pay salaries to recruited staff members. It is understood that between 25 and 35 field workers hadn’t been remunerated for February.

The registration of the field workers and volunteers was officially opened in December 2021 with members told that they'd kick off their duties in February 2022.

Available opportunities were for field work, data collection, data capturing, data processing, clerical and administrative and supervisory.

Stats SA later extended the Census 2022 recruitment drive registrations to January 31 to accommodate and give matriculants a chance to apply.

This meant that telephonic interviews and field worker visits were pushed back with March 20 being the closing date for the campaign.

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On Thursday, some field workers descended at Stats SA offices in Pretoria to deliver their memorandum of demands.

Recruit Basetsana Phora, from Brakpan in Ekurhuleni, spoke to IOL regarding the challenges they have faced so far with the campaign.

She indicated that many recruits hadn’t been paid their salaries thus far.

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"Our struggle over non-payment began after the project was extended. Living in a country where Stats SA is able to release statistics and numbers on youth unemployment only for the same organisation to take the youth for granted, is disheartening."

Phora also said this was her second recruitment work with the census project and everything about census 2022 has so far "been a disaster".

"From the training process, things have been disorganised. Their online networks were often off. Then we had a period where we attended physical training with loaned taxi fares only for the project to start late for reasons that are beyond fieldworkers or fieldworker supervisors."

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Phora highlighted that when they were advised that the project would be extended, this meant good news for them. But their joy has been short-lived as they are still waiting for payment.

According to Phora, in her area, up to 25 to 30 members, including fieldworkers, five supervisors and one field operator have not been paid and no communication has been forthcoming from authorities.

"We have bulletins where we were promised advances. Imagine an advance but you already worked a full month. Even the advance is missing in action," she stated.

Phora pointed out that the matter was a national matter, because most of their colleagues in areas of Ekurhuleni have also not been paid.

She added that apart from Ekurhuleni, those in Tshwane, Sedibeng, City of Joburg faced the same dilemma.

Census campaign regional supervisor Thandeka Nkabinde, from Duduza, said they were experiencing the same problem of non-payment of salaries from Stats SA. "They are taking us from pillar to post. They always say we will get our salaries, but even today we are still waiting," she said.

She stressed that they were promised their first payment on March 11, but only half of the money was paid.

"We were addressed by the financial manager of Census on Sunday. He said they would arrange an emergency payroll for Thursday but here we are today, still not paid," she said.

A frustrated Nkabinde said what was further disheartening was that as women, they were often required to venture out into unsafe environments to conduct their work, often fearing that they would be raped.

She further added that they had attempted to contact the census HR department but their calls were allegedly ignored.

Nkanbinde and her team said they had now run out of options and didn’t know who to approach for help.

"The matter is national, because even in Limpopo and some parts of Kwazulu Natal there is the same problem of non-payments," they said.

Attempts to obtain comment from StatsSA spokesperson Trevor Oosterwyk were unsuccessful as his phone rang answered.

Questions were also sent to him via text messages and on email.

Note: This article will be updated once comment is obtained.

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Political Bureau