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By Chisom Jenniffer Okoye

Journalist


Cope staff to fight ‘unfair dismissal’ at CCMA

An ex-worker said they had been told that the party's income had been reduced and it couldn't afford salaries, but the workers don't believe it.


After allegedly being unable to cope with financial difficulties and having to close down its Kempton Park headquarters and retrench its staff last month, the Congress of the People (Cope) might be in more trouble as ex-workers plan to take the political party to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) today for unfair dismissal.

A reliable source told The Citizen she had been among the employees who had received a termination letter, dated October 29.

According to the source, the letter had expressed Cope’s intention to close down the head office from November 1. It offered “vague” and inconsequential reasons of why the party would not be able to pay them.

The letter read: “The reason for the closure is because the party’s income has been reduced and it consequently cannot afford to pay the office rental and salaries of staff based at this office.”

But the ex-worker, who did not want to be named, said she did not believe it.

“We never heard anything about any financial problems and they get money from the IEC and parliament,” she said. “I started working there in 2008. I left and came back in 2015, when I signed a contract. When that contract expired after the May elections, I signed another five-year contract.

“We were unfairly dismissed because we were working and getting paid and there were no problems until they just gave us that letter. There was no communication before that and we did not get any notice. At least if they had given us two months’ notice, it would have been better.”

She said four former workers would be taking the party to CCMA today, while one would be taking them to the CCMA’s Limpopo offices next month.

She claimed comments made by the party’s spokesperson, Dennis Bloem, that the party was in the process of setting up smaller satellite offices in Gauteng, Free State and Northern Cape were “lies” and that she only found out about it through the media.

“After the letters, we never heard from them again.”

Bloem said he did not know about the legal activity scheduled for today, but knew there were three ex-employees taking the party to CCMA.

“Yes, we received a notice from three ex-workers, but I’m not sure when the hearings [at CCMA] are.”

The Citizen was unable to contact Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota for comment.

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