On the 29 November 2018 workers from Heineken Sedibeng brewery marched to Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), workers complain about labour law that are not followed and also they are employed under labour broker. This workers they sort empty bottle day and night in the cold whether it is raining or cold. According to Casual Workers Advice Office on their statement they said “Some women have suffered miscarriages due to the hard labour and their lack of access to health insurance or other benefits”.
Recently 55 labour broker workers at Heineken Sedibeng brewery were fired for demanding that Heineken recognise their rights as workers and follow the Labour Relations Act. This act gives labour broker workers the right to become the permanent employees of client companies, such as Heineken, after working there for three months and to be treated equally to existing Heineken permanent employees.
Khaliel Moses created a campaign on the ‘awethu.amandla.mobi’ that carry the message to Jean-Francois van Boxmeer the Chairperson of the Executive board and CEO of Heineken International saying “Tell Heineken to stop abusing labour broker worker in South Africa”.
According to statement issued on the awethu.amandla.mobi, Gladys Thaane who worked at Heineken brewery in Sedibeng for 9 years before being dismissed says, “They keep us in a state of being unsure and anxious all the time by moving us from labour broker to labour broker. I worked under five different labour brokers while doing the same job of packing and sorting for Heineken. This is their way of keeping us away from decent wages and rights. For us women it is so bad. We suffer from long periods (menstruation), back pains and breast problems but we cannot say anything because we are not sure we’ll have a job the next day. The managers even target us for sexual harassment. Now when we claim our rights they chase us away.“
The workers were accused of participating in an ‘illegal gathering’ and ‘breaking labour laws’ by the labour brokers who employed them. This despite the fact that there is no concept of an ‘illegal gathering’ in South Africa’s laws. The workers took part in a legal protest in their time off against someone other than their official employer which means there was no way they broke labour laws. The workers were part of a group that visited Heineken’s head office in South Africa and tried to meet with the company. These workers were victimized for simply fighting for their basic rights.
This hardheaded response of Heineken is consistent with how it reacted to all efforts of the labour broker workers to improve their conditions and claim their rights over the last few years. The company only acknowledged the workers and their struggles when there was public pressure on Heineken to treat its workers fairly. We demand that Heineken immediately rehire these workers with permanent employment and living wages.
More than 193 of 200 already signed petition.