Employees from Knittex in Mkhuhlu are demanding to be reinstated after being fired for self-isolating for 14 days without management’s permission.
According to the supervisor at Knittex, Bheki Mdluli, they decided to self-isolate after one of their colleagues was infected with COVID-19. He said management left the premises without notifying the workers of the result.
“We noticed that they received the result of our colleague that she was infected and she called one of her friends. We also decided to leave the premises the same time. We were then notified by SMS that the company is closed until further notice. Three days after the incident we also received messages that we must return to work, only to notice that the place was not fumigated properly,” Mdluli told NewsHorn.
He further said that they told their employer that they need to go for isolation for at least 14 days before they can return work to make sure that they do not have the symptoms as per the Department of Health instructions. According to Mdluli, management refused and told them that they were expected to return to work.
“We then decided to self-quarantine for 14 days because we shared almost everything with the victim and we wanted to protect ourselves and our families. When we returned to work after the 14 days, we invited the Health Department to screen us, but to our surprise we all received messages that we are fired,” he said. NewsHorn is in possession of these messages.
We had also been told by staff that after they received the SMS’es that they were fired, they demanded that the employer must give them letters showing they were fired in order to claim money such as UIF.
“But until today we haven’t received any of those documents and the worst part is that even the person who was infected was also fired even though she was still recovering. So we decided to embark on protest so that we can be given letters or be reinstated because in South Africa you cannot fire people using messages,” Mdluli said.
He added that no one would enter the company premises until they sorted out these their issues and would wait at the gate of the company for their papers.
When NewsHorn contacted the company telephonically, we were told there was no one available to talk to the media until further notice.