Members of the EFF are circulating a video on Twitter showing an altercation in the offices of a Cape Town company.
According to the Twitter post, the fight broke out at a Takealot office in Cape Town. “Safety before profit for our workers,” the post said.
Melikhaya Xego, provincial chair of the EFF in the Western Cape, told MyBroadband the EFF was responding to reports that Takealot was forcing call centre staff to work during the 21-day lockdown.
Such call centre operations are not necessarily a category of essential services, Xego stated.
He said that Takealot also arranged hotels for staff so that they could keep working.
“We visited and had interactions with staff members [on 26 March]. When we wanted to meet with management, they sent private security to bully us around,” said Xego.
“This we will never tolerate. Only law enforcement can bully us around,” he said.
“Just look at the video, the security came with their bare hands, no masks, nothing,” stated Xego, adding that he would report the matter to law enforcement agencies.
Our call centres are closed – Takealot
Takealot said the Cape Town EFF’s Twitter post is incorrect and there were no Takealot staff members or security personnel involved in the incident depicted.
While Takealot does have offices in the building where the altercation took place, the company said it happened on a floor occupied by a different company that is in no way linked to Takealot.
“For this reason, we cannot comment on the safety measures in place for these individuals on the floor, however, the lobby of the building is stringently observing World Health Organisation protocols,” Takealot said.
“At Takealot, our first priority is the health and safety of our staff. All Takealot employees who work at the Takealot central office are based at home for the duration of the lockdown.”
This includes its customer service team, which Takealot states are all working remotely.
“For those involved in the provision of our limited service during lockdown, we are following the strictest protocols as outlined by the South African government and WHO. These include widespread access to hand sanitiser, increased frequency of cleaning of all workspaces, warehouses, branches, as well as temperature testing of Takealot delivery team drivers and warehouse staff,” stated Takealot.
“We can also confirm that no hotel accommodation has been arranged.”
Xego said that “Takealot is lying”, in reference to their response. “We were contacted by workers who asked to remain anonymous because they were afraid of losing their jobs.”
According to Xego, one of the people who shot the video was a Takealot staff member.
Takealot staff are working from home
MyBroadband tested Takealot’s statement regarding its staff working remotely by phoning its call centre number.
A recorded message stated:
In support of efforts to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we have rolled out large-scale remote working. Our phone lines have therefore been temporarily deactivated, but we are still servicing customers via email. For assistance, please log a request via our help form and we’ll get back to you within the next 72 hours.
The audio of the call centre message and a video of the altercation are embedded below.
@EFF_Cape_Metro is not here to play. Workers called on EFF to intervene. Safety before profit for our workers. Today at @TAKEALOT #21daylockdown #CoronavirusInSA @EFFSouthAfrica pic.twitter.com/i6j5Fk66Do
— Aishah Cassiem (@CassiemAishah) March 26, 2020