News / South Africa / Protests

Alex Japho Matlala
2 minute read
7 Mar 2019
6:20 am

Khato Civils staff on strike over retrenchments

Alex Japho Matlala

The retrenchment programme came in after the company realised the Giyani water project had left them with deep scars, said CEO Mongezi Mnyani.

The huge water tanks are standing empty because Lepelle Northern Water has not paid the contractor, Khato Civils, while residents of the Giyani area struggle to get water, 2018. Picture: Alex Matlala

It doesn’t rain but it pours for Khato Civils, the Midrand-based construction company involved in a protracted payment squabble with the national department of water and sanitation over the multibillion-rand Giyani Water Project in Limpopo.

The company’s employees in Polokwane and Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, have downed tools following a contentious move by management to retrench 92 employees on Monday.

“We are sick and tired of this company’s management style,” said one of the retrenched employees yesterday. “We received letters of [their] intention to cut our salaries down to size in an effort to avoid retrenchments. But that was not the case. Instead we received retrenchment letters.

“As if that was not enough, we receive the news that two of our managers were fired for formally lodging complaints about their salary cut.”

The operational managers dismissed were Takalani Mudau of Polokwane and Hein Smith of Hammanskraal. Neither could be reached for comment.

By noon yesterday, disgruntled workers had closed the gate to the company’s satellite office in Polokwane and burned tyres on the road leading to it.

Khato Civils was contracted by the Polokwane municipality and the Tshwane Metro for bulk water supply and provision of toilets in Polokwane and Hammanskraal.

Khato Civils chief executive Mongezi Mnyani confirmed Smith and Mudau had been fired and also that the company had retrenched almost 100 employees.

“We fired the two because they were influencing employees to embark on an industrial action against the company. The two are senior managers and should lead by example.

“They took us to the [Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration] without engaging management about their discontentment. We expected them to do things by the book but, instead, they decided to bite the hand that fed them,” said Mnyani.

He added the retrenchment programme came in after the company realised the project had left them with deep scars.

“We left the Giyani project in October last year with some of the employees. Our objective was to keep them, because we value our employees and their livelihood. But it turned out that we can no longer keep them because of budgetary constraints.

“But we are fighting tooth and nail to make sure we are paid all what is due to us,” said Mnyani.

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