WBHO not ready to address outsourced construction workers at a site in Braamfontein.

Workers at a construction site for a South Point student residence in Braamfontein downed tools on Wednesday, September 11, in protest against various grievances with the main contractor, Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon (WBHO).

At the heart of these grievances are working conditions, new , the removal of labour brokers and wage demands.

About 50 workers gathered outside the building site demanding to be addressed by WBHO and requested that other workers down tools and join the protest which was organised by some of the subcontractors and community leaders.

“The workers are unhappy with their salary rates and the working conditions,” said a community leader who wished to remain anonymous.

He added that the rates paid to the workers are not market related, while some local contractors have benefits and some do not.

One of the demands is for their hourly wages to be increased to R34,50 for all workers.

A worker from Colven, an outsourcing company, said workers are getting paid different wages for the same job.

“We get less than what others are paid in other sites. Compared to other workers, I get paid a better amount [R27, 71 per hour]. Other workers with different subcontractors get paid R9 or R14 per hour,” said the Colven worker.

One of the protest leaders, Scelo Kubheka, who is also a member of Wits ANC Youth League said that the previous week some of the workers could not get to work due to the xenophobic attacks in the CBD and were told that the money will be deducted from their salaries.

“In their contracts it is stated that for ‘natural causes and political causes that are beyond your control’, they cannot be penalised for that,” Kubheka said.

With regards to PPE a worker employed by Colven told Wits Vuvuzela that, “We spoke to Colven, and they said we should buy them ourselves.”

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to Michael Tshabangu, a supervisor from Colven who said the workers did not communicate with them prior to the protest.

“We employed them for six months. We give you PPE for six months. The overall lasts for six months before we can charge [and] boots last for a year and if not we charge,” said Tshabangu.

Tshabangu added that they had only received one case of a person who needed a new overall but was not ready to pay for it even though it did not last for the intended time.

WBHO site manager Fernando Ferreira told Wits Vuvuzela that he could not comment on the issue and referred us to their lawyer from Saleem Ebrahim Attorneys who did not want to speak on the issue.

“We are still trying to resolve the issue,” said the lawyer who requested to remain anonymous.

The building is anticipated to be opened for students in 2020.

FEATURED IMAGE: A South Point construction site in Braamfontein abandoned by WBHO workers. Photo: Rose Shayo