South Africa’s NUMSA calls out leading company for violating workers’ rights

Excellerate Services, owner of South Africa’s largest private security company, has failed to pay its workers’ outstanding wages while forcing them to work without PPEs, sanitizers and other protective measures, as per the union

May 15, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
NUMSA South Africa Excellerate
(Photo: Excellerate Services)

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has alleged that the country’s largest private security company owner, Excellerate Services Pty Ltd, has not paid its workers salaries for the month of April. The company employs over 8,000 workers across South Africa.

NUMSA also said that many of the workers are being forced to work during the pandemic without Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) and other safety measures, including the provision of sanitizers. They are also compelled to register their attendance on biometric systems despite the risk of COVID-19 spread by touch.

Excellerate provides a variety of services to domestic, commercial and industrial properties, including pest control, corporate canteens and catering, as well as cleaning services. 

It is also the owner of South Africa’s largest private security firm, Excellerate Security. Its services include manned guarding, VIP protection, CCTV management, private investigations and polygraph and integrity testing. Excellerate Parking Management, another firm it owns, is described on its website as “South Africa’s market leader”.

NUMSA has further questioned the company’s compliance with the Unemployment Insurance Contributions Act of 2002 after Excellerate was not included in the list of firms to have received a COVID-19 subsidy from the government in the form of the Temporary Employment Relief Scheme (TERS).

The Act mandates that every company, with exceptions not applicable to this case, must make contributions to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). The mandatory contribution is set at 2% of the monthly wage paid to each employee – 1% to be deducted from the employee’s salary with the rest being paid by the employer. 

The government has offered TERS – to be funded through the UIF – to companies seeking financial support to make wage payments amid the economic distress induced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As per the scheme, any company which has made payments to UIF as mandated in the Act is eligible to claim financial support in the form of TERS.

A list of companies that have availed TERS, published by the Department of Employment and Labor, does not mention Excellerate Services. Noting this, NUMSA general secretary Irvin Jim said, “This means that they did not apply to the department and we suspect the reason they did not apply for relief is because they do not comply” with the Act.

The union demanded proof of application for TERS from the company, “such as the reference number, but they have failed to produce that information,” Jim said.

Arlene Leggat, president of the South African Payroll Association (SAPA) had recently pointed out, “The payment system initially had its hiccups, but the reality now is that TERS benefits are being paid out but employers are being too stubborn to apply for the benefits on their staff’s behalf.”

“If you are working for a company that isn’t prepared to claim from the TERS, then you need to notify the Department of Labor,” stated.

“We have informed the Department of Employment and Labor regarding the situation which is unfolding at the company and we urge them to act decisively against the management of the company,” Jim reiterated.