Protest for better salaries

2012-01-10 00:00

AN employee from the N3 Mooi River tollgate, Nelisiwe Mayaba (40), who takes home R1 500 every month, is one of the many Tolcon Group employees who took to the streets to protest against low salaries.

Mayaba has worked at the tollgate for six years and said she barely survives on her earnings.

There are four tollgates with workers on strike in KwaZulu-Natal. These are Marianhill, Mooi River, Tugela and Oribi.

“The conditions we work under are not conducive. During winter we have to bring our own heaters because the air conditioners only heat up for five minutes and then they stop working.

“The chair I sit on is too high and uncomfortable and my feet are always swollen because they’re not rested properly,” said Mayaba.

Mayaba hopes something good comes out of the protest.

A supervisor from Mooi River, who wanted to remain unnamed, said he has worked for Tolcon for close to 10 years and earns only R3 700.

“I’m not really happy and what makes me sad is that our employer is reluctant to sit down with our union,” the supervisor added.

KwaZulu-Natal general secretary of South Africa Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), Joseph Dube, said the protest that started over the weekend will continue until the demands are met.

“The time has arrived for this industry to improve and the employer is not willing to come to the table.

“Employees earn less than R2 500 and overtime is minimal. The employees don’t even have medical aid,” Dube said.

He said the industry makes “millions of rands”, but cannot afford to pay their employees a decent salary.

Dube said staff at tollgates on the N1 in the Free State and Western Cape will also join in the strike in the coming week.

KwaZulu-Natal Transport Department spokesperson, Kwanele Ncalane, said traffic is flowing normally on the N3 and the only disruptions took place on Saturday when employees first abandoned their duties.

“We’re concerned that if the strike continues it might cause havoc and interrupt road users,” he added.

The company that manages these toll routes, Tolcon Group, was not available for comment despite repeated attempts on the part of The Witness to contact its spokesperson, Steph Swanepoel.

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