Unpaid ANC staff threaten to down tools
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Pretoria - The cash-strapped ANC is at odds with its staff at Luthuli House and provincial offices over three months unpaid salaries, with disgruntled staff threatening to down tools as their creditors adopt a hardline approach.
The governing party’s workers also told Pretoria News that the ANC had failed to pay contributions to provident funds and the UIF since 2018 even though it deducted money from their salaries.
The party’s financial woes continued despite promises previously made by Treasurer-General Paul Mashatile that it was working on sorting out the problems, which included honouring monthly payments to workers.
Mashatile made the undertaking in the wake of a protest staged by disgruntled workers in May following months of non-payment of salaries.
The Pretoria News has seen a letter penned by the ANC regional secretary of Overberg, Derick Appel, in which he announced his absence from work because of unpaid salaries.
The letter read: “This communique serves to inform members of the regional executive committee that as of tomorrow (today), August 26, I will not be available for any meetings or organisational work until our salaries are paid. My humble request therewith is that comrades respect this, to allow me to concentrate on my family’s needs and efforts to support them.”
After the protest the workers were paid their outstanding salaries for May in June, however, since then they have been forced to work without being paid.
Yesterday, they expressed frustration that they had not received their salaries, usually deposited into their bank accounts on the 25th of every month in line with their employment contracts.
In a letter dated August 16, seen by the Pretoria News and addressed to ANC staff, promises were made that the payments of “the few outstanding June and full July salaries” would be resolved in a week.
The party also apologised for the difficulties caused to workers by the suspension of their medical aid funds. However, workers yesterday bemoaned the fact that their financial problems remained unsolved.
In an internal memo addressed to workers yesterday, the party said: “This is to indicate that we are not yet in a position to pay outstanding salaries for July 2021. Unfortunately, the August salaries, due on the 25th of this month, are also delayed.”
The memo further read “… despite the challenges of the pandemic and a challenging economic situation the party has for the first time delayed with three months of payments”.
To add to their problems, workers also accused the ANC of fraud for failing to pay money deducted from their salaries towards provident funds and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) since January 2018.
One of the workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, said the situation had worsened after the May protest.
“After the protest we never got our salaries, but instead we were told to be flexible when it comes to the go-slow so that we work hours to assist in the councillors’ nomination process to submit the candidates to the IEC (Electoral Commission of SA). They asked us to work overtime from August 16 to 24 and then continue with our go-slow afterwards.”
Another worker said: “There are a lot of things that are not paid; our medical aid, UIF, provident fund. It means that if a person can decide to resign today he will just leave without a cent after working for 20 years.”
The ripple effect of the party’s financial difficulties was also felt in ANC provincial headquarters, where staff including secretaries and organisers had not been paid.
In Limpopo, the ANC office has transferred its staff under the legislature party caucus, according to a screen-shot message from an ANC WhatsApp group.
“HQ (headquarters) staff in Limpopo were transferred to the provincial party caucus and no longer paid by HQ until 2024 in terms of their contracts and memorandum of understanding signed between HQ and party caucus,” the message read.
The Pretoria News was also told by staff that some of them were unable to bury their loved ones because their policies had lapsed owing to the non-payment of salaries.
Many employees had been slapped with summonses from their creditors because of huge arrears incurred in their bonds and car instalments, one staff member said.
Carl Niehaus, a senior member of Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association, said: “It is correct that some of the higher-paid senior managers have not been paid for three months. The rest of the staff have not been paid for two months.”
Niehaus said he had been personally affected by the situation as he relied on his monthly salary paid by the ANC.
“I am constantly in negotiation with my landlord. I am renting an apartment and it is becoming untenable,” he said. As far as he knew, the ANC top leaders had had engagements with the staff representatives, but “there are no tangible undertakings and there are no time frames being given”.
Niehaus said: “At one point we were told that the matter would be resolved, probably within three months, but three months have come and gone.”
He said he was aware that the provident funds and the UIF had not been paid for a long time.
“I do not have the exact counts that it runs into, but it runs into tens of millions of rand.
“It is a serious matter because these deductions were made from the salaries of employees when the employees were still paid. It is a matter of fraudulent activities.”
Yesterday he was scheduled to meet his lawyers to look into a possible legal case against the ANC for the alleged fraud, and said some comrades were expected to be part of the action.
In a media statement, ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said management received notice from staff that they would embark on a strike from today “in support of grievances submitted on June 15, including late payment of salaries”.
“As a result of this wildcat strike, the ANC offices throughout the country will be closed.
“The ANC management will continue to engage with staff representatives on their grievances with a view to find a solution so that we can resume normal operations.”