Forever Resorts workers go unpaid as company bosses scratch heads

Forever Resorts workers go unpaid as company bosses scratch heads
LEFT STRANDED: Workers at the Forever Resort in Badplaas accuse management of being racially bias, sending all black workers to stay at home without pay while white employees allegedly continue to perform their work and are getting paid. PICTURE BY 013NEWS/ZK

The workers accuse the employer of lying about having no money, saying since when because it’s known he puts away millions of rand in his annual budget for salaries.

Workers at Forever Resorts in the Mpumalanga town of Badplaas took their frustrations against non-payment to the gate of the popular holiday resort this week, demanding the company they accuse of being racist pays them their money as they go unpaid for a 3rd month now in July 2020.

Last time the company paid the workers was in April 2020…

The company has since cried being broke, saying the economic impact brought by the Covid-19 pandemic is being deeply felt following the closure of their tourism business the last week of March 2020 when President Cyril Ramaphosa imposed the national lockdown as part of ways to contain the spread of the contagious SARS-COV-2 disease.

Company boss Kobus Tait who was supposed to come all the way from Gauteng and meet the protesting workers in Badplaas Thursday 9 July 2020 was nowhere to be seen – resulting in the meeting convened for him getting postponed.

“The company has a yearly budget where they pay workers and this year we were told the company doesn’t have money. It can’t be, because the white staff is getting paid as we are talking and they are inside working. Only us were told to no longer come to work,” one of the workers said when speaking to 013NEWS on the sideline of their picket outside the company gates Thursday midday.

Forever Resorts workers go unpaid as company bosses scratch heads
Company HR manager Stephen De Beer who says the company is struggling financially and has been waiting for the department of labour to pay the workers through the UIF Covid-19 Relief Fund

The workers said since May 2020 they have been meeting with company management, pleading with them to pay their salaries but “nothing has been forthcoming”.

“We said, ‘okay, while you are waiting for the Covid-19 relief funds to be paid, why don’t you pay us our money from the annual budget that the company puts aside every year and which you have been telling us about all these years before the Coronavirus pandemic came’, they scratched their heads and told us they didn’t have money anymore. Funny enough they themselves get paid from it but we are not supposed to.

“The company made a lot of millions last year December and it can’t be that within a space of 3 months those millions have disappeared. They are lying and inconsiderate of our suffering,” the worker said.

Forever Resorts workers go unpaid as company bosses scratch heads
Workers at the Badplaas Forever protested outside the resort’s gate over unpaid salaries. PIC 013NEWS

In June alone the workers held 3 meetings with management – one on 15 June, another on 25 June and another on 26 June but “nothing positive was coming from their mouths . They were just wasting our time each time we met with them”.

The Forever Resorts company, which owns hostels, resorts and game lodges across Mpumalanga, has a history of underpaying its black workers, who earn just around the poverty line while white workers get more to enable them afford the suburban lifestyles, get access to medical aid and send their kids to good schools.

Forever Resorts workers go unpaid as company bosses scratch heads
Forever SA managing director Kobus Tait who disappointed workers for not coming to a meeting arranged for him Thursday 9 July 2020

Badplaas Forever Resorts manager Pieter Erasmus asked that all enquiries be sent to HR manager Stephen de Beer, salary administrator Hester Roodt or business development head Eugene van Jaarsveldt at head office.

“You are welcome to forward your media enquiry to the following people at our head office,” Erasmus said on 29 June 2020, referring to De Beer, Roodt and Van Jaarsveldt.

De Beer confirmed they stopped paying the workers in April 2020 when the company stopped “being operational as a direct result of the national lockdown on 27 March 2020”.

He said all 1 057 workers were assisted by the company to apply for the government’s UIF Covid-19 relief funds and a week ago the government was able to pay 431 workers.

In Badplaas they have 285 workers, of which 93 were paid last week.

De Beer said the system is still to pay 626 workers, of which 192 are in Badplaas.

Forever Resorts workers go unpaid as company bosses scratch heads
Stephen De Beer

“We have been in diligent communication with the UIF TERS (temporary employment relief scheme) call centre throughout this entire process to fast-track payments and from what we understand is that delays were caused due to the high volumes of applications which are currently being processed on the UIF TERS system,” he said.  

“The UIF system is also experiencing technical difficulties which are resulting in a delayed submission with June applications,” he said.

He denied salaries were only paid amongst white staff and said whoever said this was giving their prominent company a bad name.

“Please inform us where this information originated from, as these false allegations are potentially harmful to our organisation and our company’s good name,” De Beer said.

(edited by ZK)

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