Workers down tools

Workers from Golden Harvest have been on strike for almost three weeks

A group of workers from Golden Harvest, a fruit and vegetable packaging company near Stock Road bus interchange, has been on strike for nearly three weeks now.

They are demanding a wage increase and better working conditions.

The workers want to be paid R20 an hour, saying some received R16.70 an hour and others R19.

They also claimed that only management were eligible to receive provident funds and the company has refused to pay them decent bonuses.

Golden Harvest packages fruit and vegetables and delivers it to stores across the province.

Spokesperson for the workers, Lucas Yoyo, claims the company does not want to pay women wages when they were on maternity leave.

He said some workers earn R700 a week or more than R900 if they work overtime and when it was time to pay bonuses the company would come up with excuses and claim that workers were not consistent and some came late to work.

He said they requested that the company assist drivers with the fees for the renewal of their professional driving permit (PDP).

However, he said all of these demands had been ignored by the company.

He said they raised their concerns with the management in April and also approached the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in the hope of finding amicable solutions, but nothing worked in their favour.

As a result, he said, they opted to embark on an indefinite strike.

But he said their strike does not seem to be effective as some employees continued working.

He said they are hoping that the management would call a meeting and at least address their concerns.

“Our wages are too little. We deserve to be paid a better wage. We work hard but we are not properly rewarded for our hard work. We are only fighting for our rights,” he said.

But Mr Yoyo said they also feared that when they get back to work they might be victimised.

Worker Nomawele Kunjana said she has been working for the company for four years. She said the company at some point used to give them a wage raise of 50 cents a year. Ms Kunjana claims they were not even allowed to go to the toilet during working hours or else it would be deducted from their lunch break.

She also said they were not allowed to drink water inside the company but were only allowed to wash their hands.

She said they were constantly victimised and worked in fear.

“We are treated like dogs. When we work on Saturday we are not allowed to even pee. We have been subjected to these harsh and hostile conditions for years. We don’t matter to these people,” she said.

Golden Harvest, human resource manager, Janice Meyer, said the allegations were unfounded and not true.

Ms Meyer said she could not provide any further comment on the allegations.