Workers at a milling company at Tweespruit, in the Free State, have accused the company of abuse and harassment. They claim the agricultural enterprise, OVK, is discriminating against its Black employees.

Workers’ union National Emancipated and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (Neawusa) say four workers have been suspended following protected strike.

According to the union, the strike lasted for a month and a memorandum of demands was handed over to management.

The union says their relentless attempts to raise issues with the employer have been unsuccessful and that employees who are injured at work are sent from pillar to post.

Twenty-six-year-old-year old, Thabiso Sethuntsa lost two fingers last year July. He was a general worker at OVK when he got injured.

He says thereafter his contract was terminated and his dream to study further came to a standstill.

After nine months, he is still waiting for the compensation fund.

“I started working here in August 15. So, the White guy used to give us tough time due to when we work 6 to 6 Monday to Sunday, even month end. So again, they didn’t give us anytime or break or leave; even when we have funerals at our families he wanted us to work,” Sethuntsa says.

The 26-year-old says the injury has affected him a lot.

“It affected me a lot because after I got injured, let’s say my uncle and his wife were depending on me (sic).”

Another employee Khethang Nchako says: “Our management does not want to listen to our concerns. Every time we want to voice our concerns they don’t want to listen. There’s too much victimisation inside OVK. There is inequality among both White and Black workers. Opportunities keep going to White people.”

Tweespruit milling workers accuse company of abuse, harassment:

The workers’ union has blamed the company for occupational inequality. Neawusa slams the company for the alleged abuse of workers’ rights.

Neawusa National General Secretary Tsiliso Lenepa, says: “The law stipulates that the employer should report an injury at work within the seven days for compensation. The department has appealed to employers to abide by the law, and for employees to seek assistance if their rights are trampled upon.”

Communications Assistant Director at the Free State Department of Employment and Labour, , Cebisa Siyobi, says OVK submitted Sethuntsa’s compensation claim late.

“Now, in this case, the employer did not do this. The claim was only submitted on the 10th of December last year, which is four months after the incident. Now, due to the delay on the part of the employer, the matter will be referred to our inspection and enforcement services wherein a fine would be enforced on the employer for not basically adhering to the stipulated time frames,” explains Siyobi.

In its response, OVK insists that Sethuntsa’s case was dealt with according to procedures and within the prescribed legal framework.

The company also claims that its minimum salary is almost 25% higher than the prescribed National Minimum Wage.