Do­mes­tic work­ers ‘ex­ploited’

Union in­forms house­keep­ers of their rights and get a fair deal from em­ploy­ers

The Sunday Independent - - METRO - Le­sego.Mak­gatho@inl.co.za

LE­SEGO MAK­GATHO COM­PLAINTS of do­mes­tic worker abuse and em­ploy­ers’ counter-claims are once again un­der the spot­light amid a push to in­clude house­keep­ers in all labour law pro­vi­sions.

The SA Do­mes­tic Ser­vice and Al­lied Work­ers Union has main­tained that ex­ploita­tion in the sec­tor re­mains a re­al­ity, and they as­sist work­ers who have prob­lems and those who don’t know about their rights.

“If a worker is dis­missed, we as­sist them by call­ing his or her em­ployer and try to help them,” said deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary Eu­nice Dh­ladhla, high­light­ing that most em­ploy­ers still treat their em­ploy­ees badly.

“They ill-treat them. If a worker re­quests an in­crease, the em­ployer dis­misses them. Em­ploy­ers tell them ‘you know about your rights... You know a lot. You know too much, so the best thing is to leave’. They are then dis­missed with­out any no­tice, or let­ter of dis­missal ex­plain­ing why the worker is fired.”

The Sun­day In­de­pen­dent spoke to some. El­iz­a­beth Mokoena, 75, from QwaQwa in the Free State, re­flected on her 25 years in the field. She said she now earned R3 000 a month, of which she sent some home.

“I used to work in Ridge­way and now I’m in Winch­ester. Some have had hor­rific ex­pe­ri­ences with their em­ploy­ers, while oth­ers like me have had a de­cent, good ex­pe­ri­ence where we’ve man­aged to sus­tain a liveli­hood from our wages.”

Rudi du Plessis from Roseacres in Joburg said his 36-year-old do­mes­tic worker had been with the fam­ily for 15 years. “Her mom works for my moth­erin-law so her mom ac­tu­ally brought up my wife. We then got a home and she came to work for us. We’ve had no bad ex­pe­ri­ences. Noth­ing has gone miss­ing in the house. She lives with us, she gets a good salary with yearly in­creases,” said Du Plessis, adding they signed her up to the Un­em­ploy­ment In­sur­ance Fund and “the salary is quite good”.

“We are busy em­i­grat­ing to New Zealand so she’s been try­ing to look for the same kind of work for the same kind of money and it’s not pos­si­ble be­cause of all the years and an­nual in­creases she got with us. There’s no one who’s go­ing to pay a do­mes­tic worker R4 800 a month, and let her still stay there and eat from the house. So it’s been a bit tough on her.”

Betty Mahlangu, 58, from Mpumalanga, who works in Kil­lar­ney, said she be­gan work­ing at the ten­der age of 13. “I come from a dis­ad­van­taged back­ground. Many years ago, I used to earn R80. Now I earn R4 000, and I raised my kids on that money… My pre­vi­ous em­ployer took me to school for me to ac­quire read­ing and writ­ing skills. So I am happy.”

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