Protest after factory conducts strip search on female workers

Body search: Company has to apologise for making employees undress

07 December 2017 - 07:04 By Bongani Mthethwa
TORN APART  Cosatu members protest in Sydney Road, Durban, where they accuse factory owners of strip-searching employees.
TORN APART Cosatu members protest in Sydney Road, Durban, where they accuse factory owners of strip-searching employees.
Image: Jackie Clausen

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

RS Fashions representative Linda Nxasana told Cosatu members who marched to the company yesterday 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.

Nxasana said the company had agreed to work with Cosatu "so we can treat workers in an acceptable manner".

Cosatu secretary Edwin Mkhize said the company first denied workers had been stripped naked, but later admitted that it happened. The labour federation told RS Fashions they had an affidavit from an employee about the incident.

"They first denied [the incident] and then we told them that we have a case because we have an affidavit," 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 would 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.

"The way forward is for us to have a meeting with them. There are things that we have identified.

"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.

Cosatu took its protest from RS Fashions 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 say this must never happen. The Department of Labour is dealing with the matter," said Mkhize.

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