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Pensioners’ protest outside parliament continues

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A group of pensioners have vowed to continue their protest action after their demands for employment benefits were dismissed. Protesters have been staging a sleep-in along the pavement at Parliament this week for the payment of benefits from their former employer from the Ciskei and SA Transport Services.

Currently demonstrators are being housed in Methodist Church and are being assisted by the Mustadafin Foundation with food and blankets. These aggrieved former employees say they will bring the city to a standstill if their demands are not met, said former employee of Ciskei Railway Services Doris Weda on Friday.

“My husband was retrenched in 1990 and ever since my husband has not received any employee benefits. They haven’t paid him anything. And there are 120 other people who have gathered outside Parliament with the same demands. So we have told Parliament that if our demands are not met we will not move. We want our pension that is due to us,” says Weda.

Protesters are demanding compensation in the form of months of unpaid pension, U.I.F and employment insurance fund.

Most only have the clothes on their back as they anticipated a brief stay in Cape Town after travelling from Eastern Cape. With little to shelter themselves from the cold and rain, protesters have been moved to the Methodist Church by the resident reverend and given refreshments and blankets by Gift of the Givers (GOTG) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

Weda says that after 28 years the transport services has failed to make any payment to any of those retrenched.

“The South African Railways have been on strike since 1988 but their demands have been dismissed,” says Weda.

It was brought to the former widower’s attention that her husband’s deductions were made but not captured for nine months. Weda says that hundreds of other former employees are experiencing the same problem.

Aggrieved employees have instituted a claim for unissued pensions since 1990.

Employees have also been prey to unpaid salaries for months on end.

When these wage earners approached these companies they were brushed off and told they had been dismissed by their employers.

Parliamentary offices guaranteed employees that they will receive U.I.F payouts by 5 May 2016 telling them to apply for a court order against Sanlam insurance company to have employment insurance paid to them during negotiations with Parliamentary leaders.

“They told us to take it up with our insurers so that we can get our money back of unpaid benefits,” says Weda.

Employees have called on auditors and human resource managers between 1988 and 2016 to testify in court of unpaid employment benefits by the transport services.

After a ten week wait for unpaid benefits these employees have continued with protest action. Members say they will stick to their guns with protest action until they receive any form of payment.

“We will not move from these pavements until they pay us,” says Weda.

VOC (Naila Cornelissen)

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