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Company vanishes, leaving workers unpaid, fails to show up at CCMA

26/10/2023
Publication: CWAO
Author: Press Writer

The management of Crown Household, a Driehoek, Germiston-based company that manufactures and packages wire pot scourers, disappeared on 20 October 2023, leaving 21 workers unpaid.

From 2021, the workers at this company were paid far below the minimum wage of R25.42 per hour, and only paid according to the amount of wire pot scourers that they twisted and packed in boxes. Each big box earned a worker R45 and a small box earned a worker R25.

On many days, a worker would make only R45 the whole day (nine working hours) because they also were made to do other work that paid them no cent at all. Even on the days when workers were not disturbed by other work from twisting and packing pot scourers, they only made about R125 per day without taking a lunch break for those nine hours.

The workers approached the CWAO for assistance in July this year, saying they were not being paid the minimum wage. The workers had referred a case to the Department of Labour and Employment previously. The DLE sent an inspector, but the inspector did not interview any workers or even speak to the workers at all. The labour inspector only went and sat in the employer’s office, talked to the employer, and left. The workers never heard back from the DLE after that.

The CWAO's attempts to resolve the matter were fruitless because the Crown Household manager refused to meet. The CWAO immediately filed a case of monies owed in terms of the National Minimum Wage at the CCMA. When CWAO went to hand deliver the notice, the manager replied to the supervisor via WhatsApp: "Don’t call me again for nonsense”.

On the 19th of October, workers called CWAO to say that in response to asking to be paid the legal minimum wage, the employer had removed all stock from the warehouse, claiming to have sold it. Workers had been told to clean the warehouse and not to come back to work until they were called back. They did not believe they would be paid for the day or get their outstanding payments.

At the CCMA in Benoni on Friday 27 October, the employer did not show up. When the CCMA commissioner, Sunduza Madonsela, phoned the employer to find out where they were, he was referred to their attorney who did not answer the phone.

The Commissioner was pushing that the matter be rescheduled, however, CWAO insisted that the matter proceed as we hand-delivered the notice which was also emailed to the employer by the CCMA. Rescheduling the matter the matter would not have assisted in any way because the employer would not come and instead, it would have become more impossible to trace the employer should the matter be prolonged.

The employer intentionally did not attend and undermined the whole process.

After many attempts by the commissioner to convince us to reschedule the matter, the commissioner ended up agreeing to issue a default award which we will receive in two weeks’ time.

The default award will be that employees be paid monies owed in terms of the national minimum wage, backdated from January 2022 till September 2023. The award also states that the employer must pay workers a minimum hourly rate of R25.42 as from October 2023. Each employee is to be paid R3743.88 for each month of 2022 and R4305,84 for each month of 2023.

Since the employer has vanished, it doesn’t look like the employer will ever call the workers back to work. CWAO will refer a case of unfair dismissal on behalf of the workers.

For comment, please call:
Connie Masekwameng, CWAO Organiser - 060872 4291
Deliwe Kupe, CWAO Organiser - 073 653 0006
Meme Makhaula, CWAO Women's Organising Co-ordinator - 079 561 5903

Category: PRESS RELEASE | DISPUTES