The Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, Mpho Balopi has warned businesses that have ignored government pronouncements during the State of Emergency and lockdown.
This comes in the wake of reports that some companies have dismissed or retrenched staff, while others have assumed a ‘no work, no pay’ stance for the 28-day COVID-19 lockdown period despite government unveiling wage subsidies, loan guarantees and tax concessions worth up to P3 billion to beat the effects of the pandemic.
Ahead of the lockdown on Friday morning, leaked internal memos from several companies showed that workers were being put on unpaid leave, or having their contracts terminated under the 'no work, no pay' policy.
Addressing members of the press on Sunday afternoon, Balopi said he is troubled by the reported incidents, which do not demonstrate unity in action.
“As an example, and notwithstanding the various sustenance packages/instruments and public pronouncements made by the different ministries with regularity, in the last few weeks; it is highly regrettable that certain organisations (businesses, and institutions which do business with government) have been acting in a less than proper or appropriate manner,” he said.
He said these actions are not done in the spirit of the Employment Act.
Balopi mentioned the tourism, hotel, retail, education
“I mention them just so that no one must be under the impression that government and labour are not aware, and are expecting quick and hassle-free amends,” he said.
He said the main aim is not only to achieve socio-economic protection, and to collectively prioritise our individual livelihoods and those of all families, but also to build a sustainable sense of community and nation-building as espoused in Vision 2036.
Balopi said putting workers on unpaid leave, immediate suspensions without pay, and retrenchment as the first course of action has no place in the spirit of how “we are to collectively manage our businesses and social security considerations”.
He highlighted that at such times, all must realise that the nation shares the same exposure and risks, and must, therefore, work in solidarity as each brother’s or sister’s keeper.
He advised businesses and employees alike, to refer to the recommendations of the Labour Sector Tripartite Meeting, which spelt out the commitment to work together in a harmonious, but progressive manner.