File Picture: David Franklin
Construction Education and Training Authority (Ceta) employees are livid after it was discovered that their employer’s promise of contributing 100% towards their pension fund was unlawful.

Now the workers will have to fork out money from their own pockets to cover the five months that the company was meant to pay.

Employees at the Ceta said that in April last year, workers entered into a multi-year agreement with senior management about the benefits they were to receive.

All were implemented, including the 100% pension fund benefit contribution until next year.

However, board chairperson Raymond Cele pulled the plug on this arrangement, saying that he had not authorised it.

The employees said agreement letters were handed to them by their supervisors from management.

“A year later, they are telling us that the pension fund benefit was not approved.

“As workers we are saying that letters were signed and now they are deducting money from us on a benefit we didn’t ask for,” said an employee.

The company has started deducting R7500 from staff salaries without following proper channels.

“We have not given them consent for the deduction of salaries.

“It is seriously affecting people’s livelihood because it’s a lot of money.

“People’s cars are going to be repossessed, children’s schooling is also going to be affected. It’s a very emotive issue and people are very upset,” said another employee.

An investigation by a law firm into the matter last year concluded that the change in the pension contribution structure “constitutes unlawful expenditure”.

Cele said he could not comment on the matter, claiming that it was before the Labour Court.

“Consequential to this, I am currently not at liberty to discuss the matter further but to refer you to the case,” said Cele.

National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) national organiser for Higher Education Ntsako Nombelani said he was concerned because the previous board members had submitted an affidavit confirming that the board had approved the 100% contribution.

“The union is of the view that the employer should institute an independent investigation into this matter before any deduction is done from employees salaries.”

Nombelani has placed the blame squarely on Cele.

“He actually lied to Nehawu, the Department of Higher Education and Training and National Treasury, saying there was an investigation.

“The management of Ceta is actually agreeing that there was never an investigation instituted,” he said.

He said that as a union they were calling for an investigation and for Ceta to halt deductions from employees pending an investigation.