City-hired security company suspends 250 employees

Workers claim they are placed where there is no clean water, toilets or electricity

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Photo of private security and police
Heavily armed security from Professional Protection Alternatives and police outside the iMvula Quality Protection offices on 3 July. A worker said this photo was taken covertly.

About 250 workers at iMvula Quality Protection say they were suspended for protesting over their working conditions. Workers had handed memorandums to management on 27 April and 26 June. They gathered at the company’s offices in Maitland on 3 July, but were met by a row of about 20 heavily armed security guards.

Police were called to the scene, and one employee, Sivuyile Nqasha, was arrested. He was charged with intimidating other workers and appeared in court on 7 July. His case has been remanded to September.

iMvula provides security services to the City of Cape Town, Growthpoint Properties, Nampak and Capita SA among others.

In an email Brenda Reddy of iMvula said that the employees went on an unprotected strike. She said Imvula got an interdict in the Labour Court against them. “This is viewed in a serious light by the company,” she wrote.

The main concern of employees appears to be their work conditions. “It’s winter now. It’s cold and raining, but some employees are placed where there are no guardrooms or shelter, no clean water, toilets or electricity,” said one of the workers.

One worker, they said, is using a toilet as a guardroom in Durbanville where he is guarding City Council premises.

Another worker, stationed in Khayelitsha where the City is developing land for a sportsfield, said, “I travel a long distance to relieve myself at a nearby site … I was warned that I would be dismissed if I leave my work station to relieve myself.”

Workers also say their wages are very low. One employee, who has worked for iMvula for ten years, said there are three grades: grade A employees are paid R5,200 a month for 12 hours a day, six days a week; grade B employees work 12 hours a day, six days a week and get R4,800 per month; grade C employees work 12 hours per day, four days a week and are paid R2,800 per month.

Imvula would not comment on the allegations.

Mayoral Committee Member for Assets and Facilities Management Councillor Stuart Diamond said that iMvula is contractually bound to comply with the tender document which describes minimum conditions of work for employees. This includes the provision of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Imvula guards several City of Cape Town sportsfields in Khayelitsha, including Makhaza, Mandela Park Stadium, Thusong Hall, Solomon Mhlangu Hall, Site C stadium and Site C Old Hall.

Besides sportsfields, iMvula also provide services to clinics, pools, community centres, pump stations, public transport interchanges, libraries and depots. The company provide services at public transport interchanges such as Bayside, Potsdam, Dunoon and Philippi.

One of the suspended workers said: “Instead of getting answers to our grievances presented to the management on 27 April 2017 we got suspended … We did not toyi toyi, or engage in any kind of violence [on 3 July]. We gathered outside to hand over a petition. But to our surprise the company called armed security for us … We saw the security taking big guns and pointing them towards us.”

Another employee said: “Management said they suspended us because we embarked on an unprotected strike. But we intended to go to our sites after we got answers and everyone reported for duty as usual. All we need is feedback.”

According to the suspension, workers are not allowed on iMvula’s property or its clients’: “You may not contact any staff member during the term of suspension without written permission of the director of the Human Resource which permission will not unreasonably be withheld.”

The Democratic Union of Security Workers (DUSWO) represents the employees. General Secretary Mzwandile Jackson Mabongo also would not comment.

After publication the following correction was made: “grade C employees work 12 hours per day, four days a week and are paid R2,800 per month”. Originaly, it said they worked three days a week.

TOPICS:  Labour

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