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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Press Release: Stop Exploitation of Workers at Dursots Factory

Press Release: Stop Exploitation of Workers at Dursots Factory
Tuesday 13th November 2007

The Dursots Exploited Workers – supported by the Anti Privatisation Forum - will be picketing against gross exploitation and poor working conditions at the Dursots Factory

Action to take place on Wednesday 14th November from 09h00 at the Dursots Factory (Eikenhof, Misgand Road – Plot 15)

Democracy in South Africa has long held out the promise of decent working conditions and a life of dignity for poor, working class people. However, for many of those working poor, such a promise has remained just that, as they continue to be exploited by the bosses and are offered little, or no, protection from the various labour laws of the country and those tasked with enforcing them.

Workers at Dursots Food Cooperation (based in Eikenhof in the Vaal Triangle) can bear witness to the gross human rights violations at the Dursots factory, where they continue to produce huge profits for the boss Ishmael Dursots but, in return, receive meagre wages and toil under terrible working conditions. The factory has employed workers who reside mostly in poor, informal settlement areas in and around townships like Orange Farm, Majasane, Grasmere, Finetown. There are also workers, from countries such as Lesotho, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, who are forced to stay in what is no more than a Dursots concentration camp. These workers are brought into the country by truck drivers who deliver Dursots products across the Southern African region and since most of them do not have the necessary travel/work documentation, they are trapped at the factory because they fear being deported back to their countries of origin.

The Dursots workers are employed in the factory as machine operators, bean boilers, cooking oil & mineral water packers and polish makers. The resultant products are then sold to companies such as African Trading, Jumbo, Absara, Makro, Nisam and Spar, as well as internationally. Officially, the work shift begins at 07h30 and ends at 17h30. However, the reality is that workers are forced to work until they have finished their daily target, which often means that they only knock off at 23h00. Promised transport for the workers to their homes late at night, has not materialised, thus putting these workers safety and lives at risk – especially women workers – who have to walk home in areas that are dangerous. Indeed, there has been more than one case of women workers being raped at night.

Exploitation is rife at the factory. Workers continue to be denied the right to organise/join a union, women workers are being denied the right to maternity leave and sick workers are not paid even when they produce doctor’s certificates. Efforts to form a union and to enforce worker rights at the factory have met with little success, as the owner, Ishmael Dursots, appears to be supported/protected by both the SAPS and the Johannesburg Department of Labour, both of whom have consistently failed to act on worker grievances and complaints against management. Labour action undertaken by Dursots workers has resulted in more than 60 workers being suspended without pay. The promised re-instatement of these workers has not happened and instead, new workers have been employed.

The Dursots workers are demanding:

1) The immediate reinstatement of the suspended workers

2) Working conditions must be improved in the factory and the workers safety must be considered at all times

3) A living wage, not the present pittance being paid to workers of R250.00 a week.

4) An immediate halt to the suppression of freedom of association, so that workers can organise/join a union

5) The abuse of non-documented workers from other countries must stop immediately and proper documentation procured for these workers. The concentration camp where they live must be closed, proper housing provided and opportunities for education for the children of these workers.

6) Women workers must get maternity leave and all other worker benefits

7) The Department of Labour must close down the Dursots factory in Eikenhof (Misgand Road Plot 15) until such time as the above demands are met by Ishmael Dursots.

For further information please contact:

Gloria @ 073 665 0089 or Silumko @ 072 1737 268 or 011 333 8334



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