Hundreds of disgruntled Kromberg and Schubert employees on Monday staged a sit-in at the company premises demanding the employer to pay them a living wage.
The workers were asked to disperse as their peaceful demonstration was labelled unlawful under the State of Emergency Regulations when police were called in to quell the tension that threatened to boil out of control.
According to regulation published on the 2nd of April 2020, Regulation 16. (1) states that during the SOE, a gathering of more than two persons is hereby prohibited: provided that this regulation shall not apply to a meeting of Cabinet, a meeting of the National Assembly, a council meeting or a meeting of the National Taskforce on COVID-19.
The irate employees said they were propelled to go on strike having a bone with their employer for unfair treatment over low wages, lack of health & safety precautions for the past three months.
Speaking to this publication one of the employees said for the past three months they have been underpaid, getting paid a paltry 400 pula at most. He noted that he has been working as a plant operator for the past 15 years and still earns 1800 pula.
“We are treated unfairly and paid very little in the plant and yet we make electrical components for luxury cars. We have shift leaders who are not as educated as us earning way above us. They are paid close to 6000 pula while we earn a mere 1800 pula.” He noted.
Kromberg & Schubert is a company that specializes in making electrical systems, cables and plastic components.
The workers demanded their full pay while some demanded a raise from the employer as well as better working conditions. The peaceful demonstration was heated with the demonstrators chanting struggle songs from morning until late afternoon.
One of the workers who was playing a mediator between the employer and employees, Kabo Johane, who works as a Foaming Operator said that they have been trying to engage management in a friendly manner for some time to establish the underlying issues which never came to the fore.
Addressing the employees outside the gates of their employer, Tshenolo Ratshosa, from the department of Labour office asked the employees to engage the employer in an orderly manner. The orderly manner means reporting the matter to their office pending which they forward the matter to the Industrial Court for adjudication if they are not satisfied with the assistance from the labour office.
“If labour can’t mediate between the two parties you then have the right to go to industrial court for further redress. If you don’t follow the right channel there is no way you will get assistance.” He noted.
Old Naledi Councillor Oarabile Motlaleng also advised the workers to register their matter with the Department of Labour and follow due processes. He convinced them that they have a good case against the employer.
At the end of the briefing, the HR manager for Kromberg & Schubert, Pako Tsimanyana, asked the employees to come back to work so they can resolve the matter amicably. But the employees where however reluctant to so.
Johane says they did not agree on anything with management and they will continue their demonstrations until they get definite answers.