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If parking marshal’s allegations are correct, Street Parking Solutions owner Zunade Loghedy is under violation of both the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act.
SPS employees who have been on protected strike for the last two weeks have variously claimed that they are not receiving sick leave, maternity leave, holiday pay and more. Additionally, parking marshals assert that they have not received a monthly salary since the beginning of their employment and sometimes must make up for any shortfalls in their daily target, which varies depending on what street they’re working in the city.
“This is 4 years of relentless abuse from Street Parking Solutions,” said legal advisor and friend to the strikers Sarah Hubbard. “They don’t get sick leave, they are not getting paid holidays, and they’re being over worked.”
Prior to 2009, employees signed a contract stipulating that they could take home 23.5% of their daily targets. In 2009, Loghedy removed this condition.
Both Hubbard and Labour Lawyer Amy Stein from Bagraims Attorneys confirmed that this is a serious breach of labour laws and therefore a serious violation of the parking marshals’ rights.
“Ostensibly, there appear to have been serious violations of the applicable labour laws and the recent parking marshals strike highlights an obvious need for regulation of the industry,” said Stein.
According to John Sifuba of the South African Transport and Allies Union, Loghedy claims that the new contract requires that parking marshals are getting paid R140 per day. Sifuba said that employees were made unaware of this amendment.
The city, which leases the parking bays to SPS, has awarded the company with a contract. According to Hubbard, this contract promised employees that, if they receive enough complaints about SPS violations, the city would intervene.
The city & the strike:
Employees wrote down their individual stories about their alleged abuse from Loghedy to submit to the city, on Wednesday, 30 October, but have yet to receive any help.
“There is not really a solution from the city. We didn’t get any straight information to see that they are helping. We don’t get strong help from the city,” said employee Michee Bayenda.
Hubbard is also frustrated that she hasn’t seen any involvement from the Department of Labour. Despite claims from the city that they sent a report requesting an intervention, the Department of Labour will neither confirm nor deny receiving any such report.
Meanwhile, many employees have returned to work this week. Most are still unhappy with the conditions of their employment. Some claim their return to work was a result of threatening SMSs from their employer.
“Since the call for the strike action, our employer has been texting everybody trying to get us to come back to work,” employee Michee Bayunda said.
Employee Wasongo-Motombo who returned to work on 29 October got a different notification, “I came back because we were given a letter saying that if we don’t come back in 2-3 weeks, we can’t come back.”
The remaining 60 to 80 employees still on strike convened for a second meeting Thursday, 31 October at the Council for Conciliation, Arbitration and Mediation (CCMA).
According to Hubbard the first meeting was a disaster. She explained that upon arrival to the negotiation, Loghedy refused to allow any lawyers or SPS employees into the meeting.
“If he’s got nothing to hide then come out and have a proper discussion,” said Hubbard. “He’s trying to break the stronghold of the people trying to stand up for their rights.”
The second meeting is being held between SPS employees and the senior commissioner of the CCMA. Loghedy has yet to meet with the employees in the open.
Although many employees have come forward with their complaints, others were less willing and even scared to come forward. Many denied the accusations all together.
“They are scared, they are all scared,” Motombo said.
An anonymous source tells her story as a newer employee who did not participate in the strike. But before she begins, she admits that she is scared for that her employer might over hear her.
“I have been working here for 7 months. I don’t receive holidays, I don’t receive nothing. I signed a contract to pay me R20 a day plus what I make over my target. I have only been paid R20 a day now because they kept telling me I’m in training still. It’s not right. How long can I be in training? Some people are in training 2 years.”
Marshals who have been hired within the past year claim they have only received their R20 a day payment in the last week.
However, many new marshals have been hired this week with a salary of R14 an hour.
Hubbard, believes this is a way for SPS owner, Zunade Loghedy, and the city to lessen the seriousness of the strike in the public’s eye when they see marshals working on the streets.
“There is something suspicious going on,” she said. “All I know if the city is getting paid, owner is getting paid and the only people not getting anything out of this are the workers.”