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50 non-compliance notices issued and 11 undocumented foreigners arrested in NW blitz

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The Dept of Employment and Labour issued more than 50 non-compliance notices to companies in the road freight sector during a mega blitz which also saw the Dept of Home Affairs arresting 11 undocumented foreigners in Potchefstroom last week.

The 11 arrests adds to more than 200 foreign drivers already arrested this year for operating illegally.

The government is on onslaught cracking down on non-compliance with labour laws in the trucking and logistics sector which local truck drivers have been complaining about.

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The blitzes are part of a 11-point plan by the inter-ministerial task team to try to deal with tensions in the road freight sector.

Over 50 contravention notices were issued and 11 undocumented foreign workers arrested in a week-long blitz on the road freight sector in Potchefstroom, North West, the Department of Employment and Labour said.

The crackdown, which wrapped up this week, is part of a series of so-called ‘mega blitz’ inspections the department is carrying out across the country to ensure compliance with labour laws. According to government, the manufacturing sector will be up next.

The road freight blitz was a joint effort between the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), the South African Police Service (SAPS), and the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI).

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Dept of Employment and Labour inspector Aggy Moiloa said among some 180 employers who were inspected, the 50 notices issued included a range of offences from underpayment to illegal deductions, safety violations, and the hiring of undocumented workers.

One of the employers risked employees’ lives with a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act’s regulations on electrical installations, said Inspector General Aggy Moiloa.

‘Most’ employers underpaying

“What we discovered during these inspections is that most employers are underpaying their employees, making illegal deductions, and failing to provide their employees with payslips and employment contracts.

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“We have since issued them with contravention notices, and we expect them to correct this within the time frames specified,” said Moiloa.

Roadblock blitz

Earlier in the week, four undocumented foreign nationals were arrested at a roadblock along the busy N12 route. This followed the arrest of seven others on Wednesday at a local company.

All are due to appear in the Potchefstroom Magistrate’s Court.

While it was the workers who were arrested, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said employers who hired undocumented workers would “face the music”.

“We have already found that several truck drivers are undocumented – are not paid in terms of the collective agreements and are not registered for the unemployment insurance fund. We are warning employers to ensure that they abide by the labour laws or face the music,” he said.

Several ministers had last month committed to intensifying their attention on the employment of undocumented foreign nationals, he added.

The minister’s remarks on exploitative labour practices have an unlikely ally in local truckers, who have complained that foreign nationals are often favoured for jobs because they are easier to exploit. The road freight sector has seen rising unrest over a period of years, which has intensified in recent months, as truck drivers protest the hiring of foreign workers.

At the end of June, the inter-ministerial committee on trucking and logistics – which comprises the ministers of transport and home affairs, police and labour – said over 200 foreign truck drivers had been arrested since the beginning of the year for operating unlawfully.

The committee was formed in 2019 in response to protests in the trucking industry. The committee said it had an 11-point action plan, one of which was to enforce visa requirements and other regulations, as well as labour laws, in the sector.

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