Cash Paymaster Services go on strike - company accused of racism

Mihle Pike
News
GroundUp journalist Mihle Pike received a call this morning that employees at Cash Paymaster Services had gone on strike. She went to see what was going on. Here is her account.

This morning at 5:30am, I received a call from one of the employees of Cash Paymaster Services that I interviewed for my article last week about the work conditions at this company. Cash Paymaster Services is contracted by the South African Government to manage the new social grant cards.

I arrived just before 6am at their offices in Landsdowne Road. Outside near the company's entrance all the black African employees were standing. Across the road stood the Coloured employees. The African employees were striking, while it appeared that the Coloured employees were not. Some of the striking employees angrily told me that they were being called "Blackberries". They singled out Sidwell Davids, a manager at the company, for making the most racist comments.

Davids then came to the gate and told the non-striking employees to come across the road and come into work. This they did. I overheard Davids say to one of the African employees who was striking, "Move away you fucking stupid." I went close to Davids and introduced myself as a journalist. He pushed me, swore at me and said "Move away from here." I thought perhaps he misheard me, so when the last non-striking employees had entered work, I went close to him to identify myself again. He told me to "fuck off".

A security guard then closed the gate to the company's offices. As he locked the gate, he said to me, "Last year the menu was all black. This year the menu is all brown." He repeated this several times as angry striking workers asked him if he was serious.

The strikers protested and toyi-toyed outside the company. As reported last week, there are a number of grievances that employees have with the company, primarily that they are working without contracts. What appears to have triggered this morning's wildcat strike is that some workers found that their security cards to get into work had been deregistered and some of the registers they have to sign to enter work have disappeared, with the implication that they are fired.

Eventually a manager came and said the strikers must send in two people to discuss the situation. The striking employees nominated a representative, Zicengile Nokhemana, to address management. After about five to ten minutes Nokhemana came back with a response. He said that the company asked them to go to the Social Services sites that they usually work at and return later in the day when Louis Grundlingh, the head of the company, would be back to listen their grievances. The striking workers refused to leave, because they were worried the company was deceiving them. About 45 minutes later, Grundlingh arrived. He walked over to the striking workers randomly chose two representatives and tried to convince them to convince the strikers to return to work and discuss their grievances later in the day. The strikers refused and insisted that Grundlingh come and listen to them.

Grundlingh came out. He pleaded with the crowd to go to work. He explained that people at the halls were calling radio stations to complain. He said, "You don't want us to lose this tender [with the Department of Social Development], do you?" Some people recorded him speaking with their phones and he got upset, physically taking some of the phones away. He promised that the contracts were being sorted out. However, he insisted that contracts could only be for three months, which employees say is too short. Moreover many of them have been working since April 2012 for the company without contracts. Employees do get paid, even if they are not on contract, but they have complained that the working hours are illegal and that they are often not paid correctly.

At one point Grundlingh asked to meet me in private and said if I helped get people to go back to work, he would tell me everything in his office. I said, "I don't have the power to do that," and walked away.

The protest went on for three hours. Eventually some of the strikers agreed to work. Others went home. The strike dispersed.

Comments

Submitted by annonimous on

I'm also one of da staff but on the payment side.Both parties of CPS have not being paid for dis mnth and there's about 60% of the staff that didn't get their salaries and our pay date is the 20th.Imagine its January month we've got kids that must go to school debts that need to be paid but til 2day nothing has been done even though we were told that by friday the 25th will be paid.

Submitted by one of the staf... on

CPS is a very wrong company coz they dont pay us overtime money. The management of the company is very rude they call us "ASSES" for example move your ass stupid. And if they call u to see them in the morning they wiill say u must come at 08h00 but manager will arrive at 10h00.

Submitted by staff member on

The company has racism coz they hire 200 colourds and fire the blacks. i want to know y???

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Submitted by anonymous on

As a new employee of CPS i have witnessed quite a few things and in my personal opinion I don't see why they are acting this way. We already have a high percentage of unemployment in our country and yet we still don't appreciate the opportunities we get in life. Why do you want to argue and strike about your working conditions if you don't even work when you on site? How can you expect to get paid for this? Why must employees always throw everything out of proportion when they are at fault? If you have grounds for an argument then yes, but if not, why do you want to throw fuel on the fire. First look at yourself and ask yourself if you are doing what you are expected to do before you take any action or make accusations. Unfortunately, this is our biggest problem as we are quick to blame others and not ourselves.
We are there to assist the people in need..... Maybe if the workers change their attitudes towards their work and employers, then things might change and believe me when I say that striking isn't always the best option.

Submitted by Anonymous on

To my New collegue.you are suppose to be gland that you were unharmed during that what you called strike,A point of correction that was not a strike but picketing.Do you have any idea about the rights of employee?Have you been in a struggle?Or you get everything in a silver plate just like your parents?Trust me you won't stand a chance in strike.NEW Cps Employee!

Submitted by BIG E on

the fact that we are desperate for jobs doesn`t necesary mean we have to stand being called pussies

Submitted by unidentified on

i was working for cps in durban and trust me its all up to shit the company directors are fucked up they stole money from workers by under paying them n not giving them the correct salary only when one of the workers went in sercretly then it was known that workers wer been robbed and make workers work that are no even registeed they dont even give workers overtime pay it looks like in capetown its the same this madirs should all be fired n get trustable people who can make a difference!!!!

Submitted by KARABO on

I was 1 of the enrollment officers in rustenburg , when it comes to salaries our money was always short, cps ke masepa fela , i was fired in mafikeng because i refused to board an overloaded bus that was taking us to sides , i had a verbal fight withda manager after he called me with a K....... work ,

Submitted by Tsoo on

True,CPS is kak,upnormal working hours,kana we wr loging in ka 5 am then log out ka bo 12 midnyt

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Submitted by Anonymous on

Izinja impela shame kumanje asytholile mali yethu kwa sars bt abanye bayayithola

Submitted by Anonymous on

im an employee at cash paymaster services in eastern cape butterworth branch, there is a high unfair suspension here which results in unfair dismal , right now many employees are on unfair suspension which has been falsely cooked by the branch manager sabelo ziki with the intention of hiring a new staff and those people are alleged to have been slept with the branch manager and some of them have paid money to get employed , and now the employees are about to get their in october , the butterworth branch manager mr ziki is making a false accusation to the head office about the staff because he knows once this company recieves a message of misconduct about the staff member , it jst isues suspension letter without making an investigation of the alleged misconduct and not giving a bonus to that employee and eventual the person gets dismissed while she / he never did anything wrong. there are many things that need to be fixed in this branch more especiall in management.
the branch is forcing staff to take the very expensive medical aid provided by the company and it does not contribute even a single percentage. the staff is forced to undergo the ponographic test and the staff does not believe it because the ponograohic machine is hired by the company and its highly possible that results will be in favour of the company. the suspension is too high in this branch, its rate is susgesting that the branch manager has got a list of staff to suspend and he once mentioned that he wants to get rid of an old staff and there is motive behind this.
which door can we knock at to save our employment ? are we right if we write a letter to the public protector or ithe media to ask for a quick intervention about what is going on in this branch ?

Submitted by babalo on

Your complaints sound valid but did you read the Manual? What ever is said on the manual and employment contract will determine the outcome of your case. So if you can beat your employment contract and CPS manual then your point should be heard and respected.

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