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Hospital guards threaten to strike

Defensor Security officials at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital in Kimberley have embarked on a go-slow and are threatening strike action if they are not paid their salaries. Picture: Supplied

Security guards at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital in Kimberley have threatened to down tools if the management of the security company does not pay their outstanding salaries and improve their working conditions.

SECURITY guards at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital in Kimberley have threatened to down tools if the management of Defensor Security does not pay their outstanding salaries and improve their working conditions.

The security guards claimed yesterday that they have not been paid their salaries for about four months.

“We have not been receiving our salaries but are expected to continue to work without any pay. This struggle with the payment of salaries has been carrying on for months,” they said.

“Each year when the festive season approaches and the company has to pay our bonuses, then they will withhold our salaries. This is in order for us not to focus on the bonuses and rather focus on our outstanding salaries. If they fail to pay our salaries, how will they be able to pay out bonuses?”

The security guards claimed further that they were “victimised” when they raised their grievances with management.

“We have asked management about outstanding monies and they threatened us by saying that we will all be fired. We are constantly told that we will all lose our jobs if we raise matters of employment. The management constantly says that if we do not want to work then we can go,” they said

The guards further accuse the company of “unlawful” labour practices.

“We are stationed at the hospital and are constantly at risk of contracting Covid-19 because we work with hundreds of people on a daily basis. However, we are not entitled to sick leave when we get sick. If one takes a day off from work due to ill-health then one does not get paid for those days. The off-days are deducted from our salaries,” they said.

“The company further deducts medical aid from our salary, however, it does not contribute any percentage to the medical aid. We were never consulted on the medical aid company we would like to join or if we even saw a medical aid scheme as a priority, yet the company made decisions on how we should spend our money.

“Plus, we have been contributing to our provident fund but the contributions do not correlate to the paperwork on how much is actually entitled to us. It appears that the company does not make payments consistently, although they deduct it from our salaries.”

They further claimed that their lives were of “no value” to the owners and management of the security company.

“There was a shooting incident, where a patient was almost killed inside the hospital. Then there was also an incident where doctors were stabbed by a mentally unstable patient. The security guards are expected to apprehend and assist in such situations. However, we do not have any weapons to protect the staff at the hospital, the community or even ourselves. Anything can happen at any time and people will point the finger at the security guards on duty.”

They believed that the company would not be able to provide them with weapons as workers are not even provided with “proper” uniforms.

“This company does not even care about the image of their employees. We have not been provided with uniforms for many years. Some of us have to walk around with holes in our pants, shirts and shoes,” they said.

They accused the owners of only being concerned with “filling their own pockets with cash”.

“It is painful and heartbreaking when one sees the owners living in splendour but we are left to suffer. These are individuals who paid R100,000 cash as bail to the court when they appeared on charges of fraud. The business is definitely not struggling if they can pay so much money as bail without hesitating.

“It is clear that our lives are worthless to them.

“The Department of Health needs to intervene in this matter and not turn a blind eye to the struggles of employees of their service providers. The shameful behaviour of their service providers will in the end make them look like the bad guys.

“We will embark on a full-blown strike, unless all our money is fully paid. If there is no pay, then there will be no work,” they concluded.

Several attempts to get hold of Defensor Security management were unsuccessful.

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