Staff, employer in wrangle over victimisation, fake documents
FOREIGNERS employed at a BP petrol station in Braamfontein, Joburg, have accused their employer of victimisation and colluding with Home Affairs officials to have them fired, but he has poured scorn on the allegations.
The seven workers have accused their manager Richardo Vieira of corruption, assault and unfair labour practices after they were fired on what they say are trumped-up charges.
Nompumelelo Kumalo alleged that she was fired three weeks ago after she opened a case of assault against Vieira. Kumalo said she was in the toilet when Vieira barged in and threw her out.
“I asked him why he manhandled me like a dog. He said he wanted to pee. He went ahead and threw me out saying he would fire me if I opened a case,” she said.
Kumalo said she was accused of stealing money and fired after she opened a case. “I never stole the money. A customer mistakenly left the garage without paying. He came back later to apologise and paid the full amount,” said a tearful Kumalo.
Hillbrow police station spokesperson Sergeant Mduduzi Zondi confirmed a case of assault was opened.
Welma Nkanyani said she was unfairly dismissed because business inspectors found the toilets dirty.
“I told them Vieira expected me to serve 30 cars per day and be a cleaner. And I was not paid for being a petrol attendant,” said Nkanyani.
Bizwas Issa alleged the employees were fired when they asked about benefits. They wanted to be compensated for annual leave and enquired about UIF, which they said was deducted from their salaries but not paid to the labour department, he alleged.
“Vieira brought in someone from Home Affairs who said our documents were not in order. But even after we told him that we used the same documents to open bank accounts, he did not want to listen. He took our documents and that is how we got fired.
“We strongly believe Vieira is working with this official because other foreigners who do not have documents were not fired. This official came with a list of people who were deemed problem-makers,” said Issa, who had been working at the garage for eight years.
However, the owner of the garage Marco Vieira, refuted the claims. “Kumalo was fired after a hearing found her guilty of stealing R400 from the forecourt. The other staff members were not fired. An immigration official found three of our staff members have illegal documents. The official also came to interview them about where they got their permits because they are not registered on the immigration system. He told me they needed to go to Pretoria for fingerprints and bring back printouts.
Home Affairs and head of immigration services in Johannesburg Atwell Hola confirmed that a business inspection under Section 38 of the Immigration Act was done and documents given by the employer had to be verified and were found to fraudulent.
“What we found was shocking because those documents were fraudulently obtained,” said Hola.