BACTERIA: Polony products from Enterprise foods and Rainbow chicken are the main causes of Listeriosis disease in South Africa.

EMPLOYEES of Enterprise Foods factory in Polokwane say they are in limbo as they don’t know whether they will be paid or not. Three workers from the plant told The Sunday Independent that they are receiving mixed signals from managers regarding their monthly salaries.
Speaking on condition of anonymity due to fear of victimisation, the workers said they are stressed and are having sleepless nights.

“We were told to halt production and deep clean all the machines. We are now confused because we are receiving mixed messages regarding our payments. The plant manager says we are going to get paid but the HR person is saying no work no pay,” said one employee.

Another employee said they did not know when operations would return to normal. He appealed to the company not to punish them for things that were beyond their control. The employee said the situation was not caused by them and it would be unfair for them not to receive their benefits because of the outbreak.

“Resumption of work will be determined by the health officials after taking further swabs from the plant. We could be in this limbo for many more months to come. It is very stressful for us and our families. We have to feed them but with all these uncertainties we don’t know what’s going to happen. We can’t be punished for things that are not our faults. They should just pay us our money because we did not course the situation,” said the employee.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced last week Sunday that the outbreak of listeriosis was traced to the company’s factory in Polokwane, Limpopo. He further announced a recall for processed meats in shops. This follows the deaths of over 180 people due to the outbreak.

Unions have vowed to ensure workers don’t get mistreated and get what is due to them. Ntata Sekgota, deputy provincial secretary of the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (NUPSAW) said the situation was dire on Monday following Motsoaledi’s announcement and they had to intervene.

“It was really bad on Monday because they [workers] were told to go home as the plant was closed and no one was allowed inside. We managed to convince management that even if you take them home, the workers must be paid because this is not their doing. Management listened and people were back at work,” he said.

Sekgota, however, indicated that workers were not happy with the new roles. He said a majority of them did not know how to operate the equipment. He said workers want management to hire a company that specialises in cleaning.

Food and Allied Workers Union provincial secretary Nelson Semenya echoed the message. He called on Tiger Brands not to temper with workers salary.

“If the workers are placed on special leave, all their benefits must not be affected. This is not out of their doing, we can’t blame workers.

“They can’t lose their salaries because of this. The company must keep paying the workers what is due to them. We will see by the end of the month if this company will pay them for the days they were at home,” he said.

The pair also lashed out at the company for the way in which it has handled the situation. At the top of their list is the company’s failure to test workers to see if any of them were exposed to the virus and might be sick. Semenya said no worker has seen a medical practitioner or tested. -

The Sunday Independent