South Africa: Horse Grooms Can Claim UIF, Rules CCMA

30 November 2020

The CCMA has ruled that a group of former Dippin Blu Racing horse grooms from Port Elizabeth are entitled to claim unemployment benefits.

They have been unable to claim UIF since March, while in dispute with the company owner.

The grooms say the ruling will bring much relief for those who have been unemployed for several months.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) has ruled that a group of former Dippin Blu Racing horse groomers from Port Elizabeth are entitled to claim unemployment benefits.

Representing the former grooms on Friday, Malibongwe Kayiyane, the provincial secretary of the Democratised Transport Logistics and Allied Workers Union, said that the Commissioner ruled that all of the dismissed workers will get their UIF.

"On 3 December we will sign that agreement with the employer," he said.

The group first took the matter of their dismissals to the CCMA in March. But then they decided to drop the complaint so that they could apply for UIF, which they couldn't do if the case was pending at the CCMA. In September, they discovered that the Department of Labour's system showed that they had absconded from work, making them ineligible for UIF.

Then on 17 September, they made national headlines when violent protests broke out at Dippin Blu Racing and the grooms reopened their CCMA complaint. The protest stemmed from an incident in February where a worker injured a horse. The stable owner says the worker stabbed the horse in the neck. The grooms dispute this, saying the worker mistakenly cut a horse's ear.

The workers say they pleaded with the owner not to fire their colleague "because that mistake could happen to all of us". In the ensuing dispute the worker and 39 others were fired instead.

After the CCMA ruling on Friday, one of the former grooms, Alfred Mhambi said the news was welcome as they had been struggling to make ends meet since losing their jobs. "I have five children back at home in Engcobo and I was unable to buy food for them. Our relatives and the community members have been helping us with food donations," he said.

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