I have been retrenched last week and now form part of the growing statistics of SA. I have been with the company for 3 years and 3 months. My employer has retrenched someone in a similar position 2 years prior using the exact same reason 'company financial difficulties'.
I have a couple of questions that I need answered please...
1. The lady in that was retrenched 2 years prior was only employed for 9 months and were offered 2 weeks severance pay for every year worked or part thereof. I am only being offered 1 week severance pay for every year worked or part thereof. I have been told by labour relations staff at a big corporate that my employer must offer me the same as he 'instituted operational precedent' by offereing the previous staff member 2 weeks and should therefor offer me the same. However, the CCMA is of a different opinion. I have tried to contact a lawyer to ask for advice on this issue, but it seems they will even charge you for telephonic advice to the tune of R1020 per hour! Am I or am I not entitled to request this?
2. The above sentence '...for every year worked or part thereof', does this mean that the 3 months that I have worked count as a full year on it's own? What is the formula used to calcuate payment due if this is not the case?
3. The company is also moving to smaller premises at the end of this month and I have proof that the company will show a profit (not adding any additional revenue, merely working on averages) should I not be retrenched. I mentioned this to the CCMA and the lady there told me that it is unfortunate, but that companies nowadays use 'financial difficulties' as an excuse to get rid of staff and there is nothing I can do about it. Is this true? I can not believe it as surely employees have rights that protect them from this sort of thing? Note that it was made clear to me that my work ethic and the quality of my work was never under question.
4. I also have proof that the MD owes the company over R200 000 worth of loans that he has not repaid. How is it that MDs can basically live off company funds and employees pay the price when things go pear shaped? Can this not be used in my defence either? I also know that 2 weeks before he retrenched me, he transferred money from our company account to his local church and instructed the FM to allocate it to his loan account.....
5. In my Performance Appraisal (PA) that was done November 2010 he told me that he was very pleased with my work except for the fact that when the FM and himself briefly touched on finances, it seemed to him like I was not interested and had a 'far off look' in my eyes. I told him that they have confidential meetings that I am never part of and it is difficult for me to raise or add an opinion if I do not know what is discussed and how it effects the rest of the departments. He proceeded to tell me that he did not think of it that way. I requested to be part of the financial meetings in future so that I can have a clearer understanding of that side of the business and he agreed that it was a good idea. Between then and last week, the FM confirmed that she and the MD has had numerous meetings about the company finances. I was never requested to sit in on these meetings. By doing this he has effectively ensured that I could not come up with the idea of moving to smaller premises to save my job or any other cost saving initiatives that they discussed together. All of this he decided on in my absence. Although I knew about his plans (having been close friends with the MD and also part of management - Operations Manager), the first time he formally informed me of the impending move was when he advised me that I am being retrenched. Does this not also strengthen my case?
I only want what is fair and right and at the moment I am caught between a rock and a hard place. I can not understand how people, and by this I mean the MDs and CEOs of this world, can literally get away with doing anything they want. Yes, there is the law, but in order for the average Joe to access it, you have to pay exorbitant lawyer fees if you want quality representation. Hence the crux of the matter, you are retrenched, have to fight for every cent you can get, have bills to pay and a little child to cloth and feed and then you think the law might be able to help you and wham! brick wall!
I honestly need some sound advice here. Am I wrong in my assumptions of my rights or must I just take what I can get and leave it at that?
I am calling on all legal eagles on this forum as well as people with similar experience to mine. I have found that the people frequenting this site is knowledgable and I need no 'beating around the bush' right now.
Thanking you in advance for your assistance.