Pen­sion­ers head for high court

CityPress - - News -

The women present are mostly wives and daugh­ters of the driv­ers, me­chan­ics and labour­ers of th­ese com­pa­nies.

The group gave in on Fri­day and left Cape Town on the ad­vice of their new lawyer. They will now take their mat­ter to the Eastern Cape High Court in Gra­ham­stown.

The labour depart­ment was as­sist­ing, said spokesper­son Sithem­bele Tsh­wete.

“As a depart­ment, our man­date is to deal with is­sues re­lat­ing to the UIF. They need to give us proof that they were em­ployed by the bus and rail­way com­pany. There is a flat fee for those who can pro­vide proof of em­ploy­ment,” he told City Press this week.

Tsh­wete said that, since the group ar­rived out­side Par­lia­ment in April, 91 of those who worked for the bus com­pany were paid a R3 000 flat fee by the UIF. Those who had not been paid did not pro­vide proof – in the form of salary slips, let­ters of ter­mi­na­tion or other let­ters – that they worked for the com­pa­nies.

Tsh­wete said there were 635 peo­ple from the Ciskei Trans­port Cor­po­ra­tion group, in­clud­ing labour­ers, driv­ers and me­chan­ics. Of those, 91 were paid their UIF ben­e­fits while they were protest­ing out­side Par­lia­ment. Of the to­tal, 468 could not pro­duce any proof they were em­ployed there.

There were also 333 UIF files opened from those who worked for the rail­way com­pany. But of those, 191 did not pro­vide the re­quired proof, 40 sub­mit­ted in­suf­fi­cient proof, 50 had al­ready been paid and one died dur­ing this pe­riod.

This week, Par­lia­ment told City Press that its role was to fa­cil­i­tate en­gage­ments be­tween the pen­sion­ers and the rel­e­vant de­part­ments, with a spe­cific fo­cus on ver­i­fi­ca­tion of lists and claims. “In in­stances where the pen­sion­ers made al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion against cer­tain per­sons, they have been ad­vised to ap­proach the ap­pro­pri­ate in­sti­tu­tions.”

Par­lia­ment said one of the meet­ings it fa­cil­i­tated re­sulted in a de­ci­sion to help the pen­sion­ers through UIF. The agree­ment – reached be­tween Par­lia­ment, the de­part­ments of labour and pub­lic en­ter­prises, and the pen­sion­ers’ rep­re­sen­ta­tives – stip­u­lated that the labour depart­ment process all ap­pli­ca­tions for UIF by May 5, and im­ple­ment the out­come within two weeks.

But the pen­sion­ers blocked Par­lia­ment’s gates on May 6, be­cause their rep­re­sen­ta­tive mis­un­der­stood and told them they would be paid out on May 5.

Michael Mat­shaya, the man at the cen­tre of this saga, dis­putes ev­ery­thing that the gov­ern­ment has said. The pen­sion­ers de­scribe him as their leader and some­times as their lawyer. Mat­shaya told City Press he was a “pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor”. “I also work as a con­sul­tant and I am good in trac­ing and in­ves­ti­ga­tions,” he claimed.

He ac­cused Par­lia­ment, the Eastern Cape gov­ern­ment and na­tional gov­ern­ment de­part­ments of not car­ing about the pen­sion­ers’ plight – be­cause, he al­leged, the com­pa­nies in­volved, es­pe­cially Transnet, were be­ing run by ANC mem­bers who “may have mis­ap­pro­pri­ated the pen­sion­ers’ funds”. “They are all cov­er­ing up for each other,” he claimed. He did not back up his claims with facts or data, ex­cept to say the gov­ern­ment had been in­dif­fer­ent de­spite three years of meet­ings, pe­ti­tions and protests. “The of­fice of the pres­i­dent and Trea­sury must re­solve this is­sue; they must pay them.”

Mat­shaya added that all the peo­ple he “rep­re­sents” – 996 from the rail­way com­pany – still ap­peared on the labour depart­ment’s sys­tem as em­ployed. “So, where do their wages go if they are still em­ployed? All th­ese peo­ple have claimed their UIF from the labour depart­ment. Why are they not get­ting their UIF money if the depart­ment says they are un­em­ployed?”

In a let­ter to Mat­shaya in Septem­ber 2012, Khotso Nt­seare – Transnet Freight Rail’s then ex­ec­u­tive man­ager re­spon­si­ble for em­ployee re­la­tions – wrote: “It is our con­sid­ered opin­ion that there is no money due and payable by Transnet Freight Rail.”

Nt­seare said in his let­ter that it was con­firmed that pay­ments were made – but the pen­sion­ers be­lieved the amounts were not large enough.

PHOTO: LU­LAMA ZENZILE

STAND­ING FIRM Pen­sion­ers who have protested out­side Par­lia­ment since April have left their base at Cape Town’s Cen­tral Methodist Church and are tak­ing their griev­ances to court

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