Vulindlela workers strike

2012-08-30 00:00

THE controversial R2 billion Vulindlela housing development project, which is under investigation by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), hit another snag this week when the workforce downed tools over poor pay and working conditions.

But this is the least of its problems. Community members alleged the project — aiming to build 25 000 RDP houses in the next four years — is heading for trouble. They cite a building backlog and corruption.

On Monday the workers at its main offices in Gezubuso, in Vulindlela, downed tools, claiming that they were earning half of what they had been promised.

They discovered recently that many of them were not registered with the Labour Department.

One of the employees, who declined to give his name for fear of losing his job, told The Witness: “One of our colleagues went to the Labour Department for work-related information only to learn that he was not registered with the department.

Said another: “I also went to check. I found that my current employment does not appear, only my previous job appears and UIF money is being deducted from us, so we want to know where is this money going.

Building project director Hloni Zondi said the workers were registered and money deducted for UIF was sent to the Labour Department.

Labour spokesperson Jay Anand said he could not comment on the allegations of registration and the UIF until an investigation was conducted.

“If the workers feel aggrieved about a labour-related matter, they should lodge a complaint with the department and our inspectors will investigate the matter,” he said.

A source said the project was nowhere near its target to build 300 houses per month in the nine wards, a total of 2 700 houses per month.

“The beneficiaries are also at risk of not getting their houses because some of the houses are being built for non-beneficiaries; those who are supposed to benefit are being forced to wait indefinitely.”

Zondi disputed this, insisting that the houses were being built for the beneficiaries.

Mbulelo Baloyi, of the Department of Human Settlements, said the project was behind schedule, but a recovery plan had been put in place. He said the SIU had requested documents relating to the project for its investigation and those had been forwarded.

When asked about accountability for the workers, he said the employees were the responsibility of the co-operatives. “Co-operatives appoint staff and pay them according to the milestone achieved.”

The SIU and Public Protector Thuli Madonsela confirmed they were investigating the project.

• See ‘Vulindlelaville’ on page 10

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