* PHOTOS ATTACHED *
Simunye Workers’ Forum organiser threatened by representatives of Liwayway Food South Africa (Pty) Ltd
Jacob Potlaki, an organiser with the Casual Workers’ Advice Office and Simunye Workers Forum (SWF), was threatened by representatives of the Centurion-based Liwayway Food South Africa (Pty) Ltd yesterday (18 May 2023) at 3:30pm on the factory premises.
Earlier, the SWF had referred a matter of mutual interest to the CCMA Pretoria, following Liwayway Food South Africa (Pty) Ltd’s refusal to meet with the SWF to negotiate wage increases.
At the CCMA Pretoria meeting, Commissioner Mhlala said that Liwayway Food South Africa (Pty) Ltd had requested that the meeting venue be changed to the factory premises so that they could settle the matter with the SWF before it was heard by the CCMA.
The SWF agreed to attend a meeting with the Human Resources Manager of
Liwayway Food South Africa (Pty) Ltd on their requested date – Unit 11 of the factory at 3:30pm on 18 May 2023. Simunye Workers’ Forum organiser Jacob Potlaki duly arrived and met with the workers outside first. When it was nearly 3:30pm, Potlaki told the company security guards he was there for the meeting. The guards phoned the HR office, who said Potlaki should wait outside the company gates and somebody would fetch him for the meeting.
Instead, two men arrived (see attached photos – blue tshirt and yellow tshirt) and said they were from Liwayway Food South Africa (Pty) Ltd and Express (one of the outsourced companies who works there) and they wanted to give Potlaki feedback from the meeting (instead of actually meeting with the SWF as they had asked the CCMA to do).
They refused to identify themselves and began to threaten Potlaki, telling him “you must drop this thing that you are doing in this factory because you are not going to go anywhere with this thing”. Potlaki then called the workers to identify the men and the men quickly ran away to a white BMW.
After that, the company had clearly called a private security company who arrived and interrogated Potlaki about why he was at the company gates, and only backed off when Potlaki produced his appointment letter. The company then claimed that managers were not at work and could not meet with him, even though they were seen on the premises at that time.
The SWF will now proceed back to the CCMA to reschedule the matter so that all meetings take place in the CCMA.
The Simunye Workers’ Forum and Casual Workers Advice Office are disgusted at the behaviour of Liwayway Food South Africa (Pty) Ltd. We believe Potlaki only escaped injury because workers came out and prevented Potlaki from being beaten.
The threatening men ran away and climbed into a white BMW with the registration number 627 PND GP. Photos of the two men involved in the attack (in yellow and blue shirts) are attached.
This press statement was released by Simunye Workers’ Forum on 19 May 2023.