Clientele employees down tools over 'poor working conditions, racism' | Fin24
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Clientele employees down tools over 'poor working conditions, racism'

Nov 29 2018 18:28
Sibongile Khumalo

Clientele customer service staff at the company’s Johannesburg head office have embarked on a strike over what they say are “unfair working conditions” and racism in the workplace.

The employees say the strike, which began on Tuesday, has been declared illegal by the insurance service group.

While the shop steward says more than 1000 Clientele staff have downed tools, Clientele disputes this and says the number is about 150.

“We have decided to embark on a strike to voice our grievances over unfair treatment of employees at Clientele, which include unfair deductions of commissions and favouritism in the company,” said shop steward Omphemetse Pheko.

According to Pheko, workers have also leveled accusations of “racism and rampant favouritism” against the company's management, saying black people were often overlooked for promotion.

Approached for comment, Clientele described the protest action as only affecting “a small percentage” of its employees, stating it was committed to constructive dialogue.

The company did not immediately respond to questions over the racism claims, with a spokesperson saying management was locked in a meeting.

“We remain committed to pursuing alternative and more conducive means to reach a mutually beneficial resolution including referring the dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration for intervention,” said Basil Reekie, Group Managing Director in a statement.

“It has always been Clientele’s stance to resolve any concerns through constructive engagement between management and staff directly.”

But the striking employees who have been picketing outside the offices in Rivonia, north of Johannesburg dispute this, saying management refused to meet with them.

“Management has so far not made any effort to meet with us, we have given them seven days to respond to our memorandum of grievances,” said Pheko.

* This article has been updated to indicate that Clientele disputes the number of workers who have downed tools.

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