A City of Cape Town contractor awarded the MyCiTi bus station management tender worth R675m has been accused of downscaling employees salaries to half and not paying for work on public holidays and overtime.
Previously the workers were employed by MyCiTi bus Vehicle Operating Companies (VOC’s) Kidrogen and Transpeninsula Holdings Pty Ltd formed by taxi bosses affected by the roll out and implementation of the Integrated Rapid Transit System (IRT).
But their tenure with the two VOC’s came to an end when the City advertised the station management tender and in October last year eventually awarded it to AEM–a joint venture comprising of Arcus Facilities Management Solutions (Pty) Ltd and Enforce Security Services (Pty) Ltd.
Now from earning R5, 700, a month for ticket validators retrained as kiosk cashiers, they earned half that amount because their working hours had been reduced, say the workers who wished not to be named for fear of victimisation by their new employers.
But while it is a City of Cape Town tender, Mayco member for Transport Roads and Stormwater Brett Herron said the City can not “summarily dictate” the terms of contracts between private individuals and companies.
Herron said the underpaid workers were not employed by the City but rather by various companies contracted to the City to provide various services.
“We are not able to comment on the private employment relationship between an employer and employees,” said Herron.
He said the City was facilitating “talks” between the employees and the employer
Herron did not say what talks the City was facilitating.
In the meantime, the employees stayed away from work on Thursday demanding that their earnings be paid in full and their overtime earnings be paid, said Transport and Omnibus Workers Union (TOWU) secretary general Tony Franks.
The company resolved to pay all earnings owed to the workers, Franks said on Monday.
The interviewed employees said they were made to work on public holidays but never got paid and did not get paid for working overtime either.
Additionally their working hours were reduced, and workers deployed on a night shift working on the trunk stations were not transported back home at the end of the shift as previously the case with the VOC’s who lost their bid for the station management tender as the city described their bid as “excessively high”.
Franks said the winning joint venture tendered at a low cost and wanted to make a lot of profits by cutting off employees working hours.
He said in some cases duties for people employed to work on MyCiTi bus stations were performed by the joint venture’s security guards to cut the hours.
“Security (guards) took over some of the tasks on the stations. Security guards are doing jobs that station workers are supposed to do resulting in less hours,” said Franks.
A former ticket validator trained as a cashier said he previously earned R5700 under the management VOC’s but his earning was cut to just under R3000.
A resident of Du Noon, he said at some point while working on a night shift at Woodbridge Island he has to sleep at the station or walk home, as the new company did not continue VOC’s practise of providing transport after working late night.
Franks said his union will hold the City accountable as it awarded the tender and did not ensure that the joint venture adhered to the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council.
He said while the joint venture had the right to reschedule working hours, workers were allegedly not allocated the acceptable working hours their required 195 hours were reduced by 20-hours.
“They will back pay them for three months and implement the 195-hour per month as required by law,” said Franks.
On Tuesday the join venture said the only person to talk to the press was Felicity Bell who manages the ventures MyCiTi projects and was not available since Monday. –West Cape News