Rushing her way through a buttered six slice polony sandwich, she anxiously nibbles while taking breathes in between each bite to tell her story, “This is my tea time,” says *Primrose Moloi speedily.
Moloi has been an employee at Wits’ take-away restaurant, Kara Nichha’s for the past five years and has not yet been registered as an employee.
“I have not been registered and we work the whole day with one 30 minute lunch break and another 15 minute tea break,” said Moloi.
Moloi confirms that the Kara Nichha’s staff are solely made up of women who have to carry stock from the loading truck to the kitchen of the restaurant, which she describes as “wa kgathatsa” (tiring) referring to the labour intensive task.
Kaushik Mistry, manager at Kara Nichha’s denies that his workers have not been registered, saying that he has recently applied for them to be permanent employees so that they can receive benefits, and was told by the previous owner it would be confirmed in the next two weeks.
Mistry claims that the manager before him did not register the employees and confirmed the shop is still run by the same owner.
According to Moloi the staff are forced to sign a stock inventory document when a customer has changed an order to account for the stock.“If something is missing even if it’s two samoosas, he makes us sign a document.”
The Kara Nicha’s staff are each paid R540 per week, which Moloi complains is not enough to feed her family of five but says that the“issue is the same with the employees from the Chinese shops.”
An employee from Chinese Take-Away who has been working there for the past 10 years also complains about having no worker benefits.
“We don’t have a Provident Fund, no paid maternity leave. We work but there’s no set-aside time for lunch – we also don’t have UIF (unemployment insurance),” said an unnamed source. “What I would like to see, is for us to be registered, we are not permanent staff – but once someone dies no one receives anything,” said the unnamed source. She said another staff member passed away last year and his family did not receive remuneration from his employer and the workers could not go to his funeral because they were working.
Chesa Nyama employee Salina Motsoeng who has been working there for five months says the situation at their eatery is similar, as they are also employed on a contractual basis, but have signed a contract that stipulates that “if a person gets hurt during working hours – we are liable to cover their medical cost.”
Moloi said the general treatment of workers by Mistry at the eatery is not good, saying that he shouts at them in the presence of customers.
Mistry dismissed the question of the alleged exploitation of his employees saying, “No you can’t say it like that, we follow the law…whatever we need to do with the staff we are doing, so it’s not like we are doing nothing for them.”
*Primrose Moloi – not her real name