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Thread: Unfair wage structure??

  1. #1
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    Unfair wage structure??

    Hi all,
    I was wondering if anyone could help me with respect an issue i had with my previous employer.
    I was working as a night staff care worker in a drug rehab centre.
    It was my duty to make sure that house rules were adhered to, handing out and making sure that medication was taking (orally only) at the right times, to lock up in the evenings, and to open up and wake everyone up in the mornings in time for breakfast.
    My working hours were from 6pm - 8am the following morning.
    I was expected to perform these duties on, at first, a monday - thursday working week, with friday, saturday and sunday off.
    I was told that i would be paid R75/shift.
    Now i dont think it is important, but i have a broken leg at the present time, so this job was reasonably simple for me to perform, and i would struggle to get a normal job due to me being on crutches, so i didn't query this pay structure, and just got on with the job.
    I worked last year September, October and November mainly at these days and times, with the odd saturday or sunday covering for the weekend night staff that would regularly drop them at the last minute, which is where i would try help out for some extra cash (R100/shift on the weekend).
    December arrived and they were really struggling with the weekend staff (i suppose she had found better employment over the season somewhere else), so i agreed to help them on a 7 night a week basis, and they duely fired the weekend staff worker.
    I did these hours, working 7 day weeks for almost a full month.
    By the end of December i was knackered though, and the hours were taking their toll on me.
    They had made no effort to find a replacement weekend care worker, so i was left having to do every night.
    Over the xmas period i was chatting to some mates and they were telling me how terrible my pay was.
    So i did my research online, but battled to find anything to do specifically with care workers.
    The beginning of January i spoke to my ex boss and he told me that i was unskilled labour therefore he could pay me whatever he wanted. My research did turn up that minimum wage in SA is R8.95/h as of the beginning of December last year. I worked out that my pay according to the hours i was working was around R5.35/h!
    He told me that if i didn't like it then i should leave. So i did.
    First of all the facts...
    I never signed any employment contract with my previous employer. A wage was verbally agreed between us at the start of my employment. I never paid any taxes or UIF, etc. I was paid in a brown envelope cash in hand at the end of every month. I started working 14h/day 4 days a week, therfore 56h/week. The month of December i worked 14h/day 7 days a week, therefore 98h/week!
    The rehab charges an astronomical amount of money per client, and a quick bit of maths reveals that my ex boss would be coining in the region of R250 000/month on the 9 clients he had at the time that i was working there.
    It makes me sick to the stomach to think that with that amount of money coming in he couldn't even pay me minimum wage!
    I am not certain, but am pretty sure that most of his other staff (its a small staff of just 4 or 5), with 2 of them being Malawians (really hard working) are also on a cash in hand system. Meaning he is more than likely skipping paying their taxes and such as well?!
    Now this is speculation though. I have no proof of this, except for the amount of income. This i do know.
    But i digress.
    The question is this: Do i have any recourse against him for back pay of wages to bring me up to minimum wage for the period that i worked there? And also, even if i dont, is there someone i can phone to get them to go around and check into his books as i am pretty sure that he is acting illegally in respect of his payments to SARS and the government.
    I know that this sounds like sour grapes, but it is merely principle. And i would like the staff he does have there at the moment to get the proper treatment with regards pay.
    And to be honest, this man is not a very nice person, and has bad mouthed me and hurt others that have traveled through his rehab in the past.
    I have sent some emails to employment assist attorneys, but they are all no-win-no-fee sharks that have a million stipulations that i am sure would end up screwing me were i to use them.
    So, over to you guys

  2. #2
    Gold Member
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    Mar 2012
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    Hi deejaypsy, there are too many issues to address in one answer. You clearly are able to research so I would suggest you download these acts:

    Basic Conditions Of Employment Act (As you have no employment contract, this Act is your employment contract)
    Read all sections but especially Sections 10,16,17,18,21,29,33,37,38,40

    Labour Relations Act (LRA)
    Read Sections 193, 194, 195

    Google "constructive dismissal" and familiarise yourself with the concept.

    Download a CCMA referral form, I think it is Form 7.11 from Dept. Of Labour website. Follow the instructions with this form.

    But time is of the essence, you have 30 days from date of actions giving rise to the dispute.

    BTW, forget about taxes; there would me none. UIF on the other hand is an issue...

  3. #3
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    The only question really is whether there's an approved collective agreement somewhere that applies to the job and allows those sorts of hours and pay rates.

    This CCMA page on referring a dispute should prove useful.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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  4. #4
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    Thanx guys. I'll check out those links and documents.

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