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MATSAPHA – Inyatsi Construction (Pty) Ltd, has declared a position held by one of its employees as redundant.

In a letter dated July 19, 2022, the Human Resources Executive, Phindile Matsebula, informed Sithembiso Dlamini that the company explored all possible options to redress the situation to avoid his position being declared redundant. Dlamini is a member of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO). He strongly believes that his post was declared redundant because of his political affiliation. He held the position of fuel attendant. He had been with the company since 2019. “Everyone in this country deep down in his or her heart is a PUDEMO member and I’m not different from the struggling people of this country. I am member of PUDEMO,” he said. He made allegations that could not be substantiated regarding his political affiliation and that of his colleagues. His colleagues have not yet come out to voice out their grievances.

However, Dlamini mentioned that there were about 30 employees who were considered for the redundancy exercise, but later heard that some were removed from the list. He is determined to challenge the decision of his employer in court. “We strongly believe that if there is any justice in this country we will surely win this case,” he said. Inyatsi Construction (Pty) Ltd management could not be reached for comment on the number of employees affected and the reasons for declaring Dlamini’s job as redundant. A response to a questionnaire sent to management had not been received by 3:20pm yesterday. It was sent to the company on Friday at 1:17pm – the very same day this newspaper was made aware of Dlamini’s issue as he posted the letter of his employment termination on his social media page.

What is redundancy?

Redundancy involves a reduction of positions as a result of a number of factors, including restructuring due to an economic downtrend or due to technological reasons. It is different from retrenchment as this one targets the people while redundancy targets positions. A person cannot be declared redundant but a position which a person is holding can be declared vacant.
“It is unfortunate that we cannot circumvent the redundancies and confirm the decision to terminate your employment contract,” reads the letter written to Dlamini by the Inyatsi’s human resources executive. His employment was terminated with effect from July 31, 2022.  The company said it terminated it in terms of Section 36 (j) of the Employment Act of 1980. The legal provision reads – “It shall be fair for an employer to terminate the services of an employee for any of the following reasons – (j) because the employee is redundant.” He was ordered not to come to the office upon receipt of the letter. “You will be paid in lieu of your contractual notice period of one month,” further reads the letter.

He was also assured of payment in lieu of any accrued, but unused annual leave entitlement as well as his statutory redundancy payment in accordance with Section 34 of the Employment Act. This payment is based on Dlamini’s length of service. This section relates to how the employee should be compensated. An employee of Inyatsi Construction (Pty) Ltd Nomvula Ginindza, the senior Human Resources Officer, was given the responsibility to advise Dlamini on the exit procedure and the filing of the provident fund withdrawal claim. “We thank you for your contribution to Inyatsi and wish you all the best for your future career,” according to the letter.

Dlamini takes on Inyatsi

In an interview yesterday, Dlamini said he had mixed emotions about the issue as he is happy and the other side of him is worried. He further mentioned that the working environment went on to be more hostile to him. He alleged that three of his colleagues came to tell him that that management was unhappy about his behaviour and political affiliation. He said he was told six or seven months before the redundancy that they wanted him out of the company. “I then understood that now I’m in big trouble but there was nothing wrong about my behaviour and political affiliation as it is my right to associate myself with any organisation or group I feel comfortable to be part of,” said Dlamini. He said he was being instructed by almost everyone in the management on how to carry out his duties to an extent of contradictory working policies. He explained that he couldn’t endure such hostility and stopped taking verbal orders from any of the management team except those which were in black and white. He felt he was then investigated for refusing to break the operational procedure. “I think they then had false hopes that they might find me guilty in the process and thereby fire me,” he said. He said he made sure he communicated with them through email as he knew he was being set-up for guilt and failure.

everyone was on my case

“After that everyone was on my case trying to validate reasons for me to go through a disciplinary process,” he said. He said he was investigated and found not guilty, but later on that day at around 4:55pm, he was given a letter notifying him about the redundancy. Section 40 (2) of the Employment Act of 1980, provides that where an employer contemplates terminating the contracts of employment of five or more of his employees for reasons of redundancy, he shall give not less than one month’s notice thereof in writing to the Labour Commissioner and to the organisation (if any) with which he is a party to a collective agreement and such notice shall include the following information –

(a) The number of employees likely to become redundant;
(b) The occupations and remuneration of the employees affected;
(c) The reasons for the redundancies; and
(d) The date when the redundancies are likely to take effect.
(e) The latest financial statements and audited accounts of the undertaking;
(f) What other opinions have been looked into to avert or minimise the redundancy;

A labour officer said the company, in terms of the law, did not have to notify the commissioner of labour if only one employee was affected. He said the employer would have to notify the commissioner if five or more than five employees were affected.  

operational losses

Inyatsi Construction (Pty) Ltd experienced operational losses in the past months as a result of arson. It had to suspend operations. Its machinery plant was burnt at Sicunusa and Sigombeni respectively. It could not be established if these are the reasons which forced it to consider redundancies to normalise the situation, but Dlamini believed he was victimised for his political affiliation. Labour Commissioner Mthunzi Shabangu said his office was aware of the Inyatsi situation as guided by Section 40 of the Employment Act of 1980. 

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