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Cosatu members protest after Durban company strips female workers naked

06 December 2017 - 14:51 By Bongani Mthethwa
Cosatu members protest outside factories in Sydney Road, Durban, where managers are accused of strip searching workers.
Cosatu members protest outside factories in Sydney Road, Durban, where managers are accused of strip searching workers.

A Durban fashion company has apologised for stripping female workers naked on suspicions of theft when they knocked off duty.

RS Fashions’ representative‚ Linda Nxasana‚ told a handful of Cosatu members who marched to the company’s premises on Wednesday that the stripping incident had happened only once.

“The employer is apologising about what happened. It happened only once and [the employer] is promising that this will never happen [again]‚” she said.

She said the company had agreed to work with Cosatu “so that you can correct us where we are wrong and so that we can treat workers in an acceptable manner".

Cosatu’s provincial secretary Edwin Mkhize said the company had first denied that workers had been stripped naked‚ but later admitted that it had happened once. This was after the labour federation had told management that they had an affidavit from one of the victims. “They first denied [the incident] and then we told them that we have a case because we have an affidavit which has an address of this place‚” he said.

He said one of the managers had told them that the incident could not have happened because there were cameras on the premises. “He said it happened only once and they searched workers because they have a problem of theft. He said they apologise and they agreed that as Cosatu we can work with them‚” said Mkhize.

He said Cosatu will have constant meetings with the company‚ which employs more than 300 workers‚ to help them deal with workers when they steal so that workers are not harassed.

“We said the way forward is for us to have a meeting with them. There are things that we have identified such as papers on the wall which say that if you have delayed for 15 minutes you will be given a warning. And there is no law that backs that.

“There are many other things that we have identified which are wrong and we will have to engage with management to deal with those issues‚” said Mkhize.

From RS Fashions‚ Cosatu members took their protest to another linen and textile company also accused of strip searching its workers.

“There is another company on the same road which is also stripping workers which means this practice is prevalent here. We are saying this thing must never happen. The department of labour is dealing with the matter‚” said Mkhize.