GroundUp (Cape Town)

South Africa: Disgruntled Employees At Social Grant Payments Company

Employees of Cash Paymasters Services (CPS) are fed up with their working conditions. The company handles the reissuing of the new social grant cards for the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA).

Their grievances include long working hours with no over time, no one to report to, no security at working halls and the late issue of contracts.

Ntombikayise Lili, an employee of the company, said "We work long hours here, leaving the house at 5am and only returning at around 10pm at night. It's not fair on my family." She said they are issued contracts for three months at a time even though CPS has secured a five year contract with SASSA. "The company takes its own time to give us contracts and we always sign contracts way after the expiry date. For example, a June contract we will sign in September."

Another employee said, "We never know who we can talk to about our concerns and it's worrying because then we sit with horrific working conditions."

CPS Human Resources Manager Lawrie Chalmers disputes the claims made by staff members "If staff work longer than the required hours they receive overtime." With regard to the issuing of late contracts Chalmers said, "We have employed approximately four thousand temporary staff. Logistically it is taking time to issue contracts to all staff."

However, Chalmers admits that contracts only stretch over a three month period. "Some of the contracts start in January 2013 and terminate in February and March 2013. The longest a contract will run to is 31 March 2013."

A dismissed CPS employee said, "I was fired in a strange way because I saw a list posted on the notice board with names and we were told to come the following day at 8am. When we got there the people on the list got termination letters. When we asked why? A woman said we should ask the person in charge. We asked him and he just said, 'Don't worry yourselves more will follow' ". He has taken his case to the CCMA.

Mike Louw COSATU Provincial Organiser said, "The most obvious reason for the company issuing only three month contracts is to make it easier for them to dismiss the employees without having to answer a lot of labour questions". COSATU confirmed that the employees of CPS were not members of any of their affiliated unions. Louw said, "I will take the matter to the labour department so that they too can lodge an investigation on how the company treats its employees."

SASSA have not responded to our questions.

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