Unemployed community members of Ward 60 demands to be heard by contractor

By Phumi Ramalepe & Onke Ngcuka 

About 25 unemployed Braamfontein residents disrupted operations at a Jorrisen Street building site on Tuesday, March 12, demanding that they be employed by the construction company.

Construction of the student residence was disrupted for about an hour, with community members demanding to be heard by the main contractor, Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon (WBHO). The community members said that as residents of Braamfontein’s Ward 60, they should be employed in the project located within their residential area. The matter was resolved and construction resumed.

The community members demanded that a Community Liaison Officer (CLO) be employed to be the middle person between the company and the community, and that the CLO should be a community member.

Ward 60 councillor, Nokuthula Xaba, told Wits Vuvuzela, “The operation is within the ward and [the contractors] must forge a relationship with the community. They sent me emails saying that they have an agent and the community members are not happy with the issue of an agent [as a liaison]. I indicated to them the importance of a CLO two months ago and they did not listen, which is why I said the community must take over,” Xaba said

An unemployed Ward 60 resident, Nosiphelo Mapapu, told Wits Vuvuzela that the construction company was overlooking the residents.

“What we are saying is that they should hire people from Ward 60. They are currently hiring people from outside of the ward and foreigners because they know that we won’t accept being paid [peanuts],” said Mapapu.

Within their list of demands, the community members also said that they seek employment directly from the main contractor.  “We don’t want to be hired by the subcontractors. We want to be hired by the main contractor which is WBHO,” the 33-year-old added.

The community members and the contractors had separate meetings, and then came together to reach an agreement.

Johan Wheelers, Chief Financial Officer (CFO)of South Point, who have commissioned the building from WBHO, addressed the community members and said, “We have agreed to employ a CLO. There are still budget constraints. The budget we have is a salary of between R7 500 and R8 500 per month. If the community wants to submit CV’s to the contractor, you can submit three to five CV’s.

“The contractor and myself will interview the people whose CV’s we have, assuming that this is someone from the community. We will then appoint a CLO from there,” the CFO said.

WBHO took over the construction of the South Point residence in January after the previous company, Liviero, had halted construction due to funds running dry.