Compensation cries

2018-10-09 06:01
Former employees of SAB Newlands Brewery during their protest.PHOTOS: Nomzamo Yuku

Former employees of SAB Newlands Brewery during their protest.PHOTOS: Nomzamo Yuku

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Seventeen years later, former employees of SAB Newlands Brewery are still battling for their compensation.

Singing struggle songs, more than 50 picketers marched from Main Road to the entrance of the brewery in Newlands on Wednesday 3 October from 11:00 until the afternoon.

There was no violence involved; however, protestors refused to leave the spot when police tried to remove them, reportedly because the protestors were blocking the facility’s entrance. Officers at the scene refused to comment and left the picketers after their unsuccessful attempt.

Picketers waited more than an hour for the company’s representatives to attend to them.

The picketers claim that the company failed to compensate them following a massive retrenchment in the early 2000s and say their attempts to communicate with the company have fallen on deaf ears. The former employees say they won their case in the labour court and the ruling stated that 61 of them should be paid salaries for 35 months and be re-instated.

Azure Janneker, the brewery’s chief financial officer, says: “This is a historical matter brought to the attention of SAB by a group of former brewery employees relating to their retrenchment from the organisation in the early 2000s. It relates to a case against SAB before the labour court dating back to 2001.”

Janneker adds that a settlement was reached with a union that represented the employees at the time.

“SAB confirms that it has complied with all its obligations in terms of the settlement agreement. The settlement agreement involved compensation payable to these former employees through a financial institution nominated to administer the payments­.”

She says that it was only in June this year that a committee “purporting” to represent the widows of former employees wrote to the company alleging that the former employees did not receive compensation as per the settlement agreement. She says the company has been engaging with the committee representative, has contacted the financial institution concerned and has since provided proof of payment to the representatives of the group. She says they further advised the representatives that any claims can be forwarded to the financial institution that will assist in validating the claims, subject to necessary identification.

Peter Pama, one of the former employees, says they did not receive any compensation following the ruling, except the small packages they got prior to the case, hence their frustration. He says they want proof if the company says a settlement was reached and payments were made.

He says they feel manipulated and cheated because they invested years working for the company and “got nothing” in the end.

Aida Ngqwebo, the widow of employee George Ngqwebo who died after suffering injuries on duty, says she was also never compensated, as the brewery allegedly told her it was not their fault her husband fell into an open pit while on site. Her husband had worked for the company for 17 years and the family was allegedly given R5000 by the company to help with funeral arrangements.

“It was an insult, a painful insult, as I still had two minor children to take care of.”

She says she would like the company to be considerate and pay their money.

Vukile Kopolo worked for the company for 14 years and is now confined to a wheelchair. He says nothing went well for him after the retrenchment and his health is now deteriorating.

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