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Summerstrand Hotel Staff in limbo as severance packages are still not paid


It has been nearly nine months since the iconic Summerstrand Hotel in Port Elizabeth was sold at an auction for R88 million and still, it's beleaguered staff have not received monies that are owed to them.

Over 80 staff members have now gone to the  Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in the hope of getting their retrenchment packages.

Three senior staff members who took the matter to the CCMA have already been issued a cost order in their favour to the joint amount of R860 443. 13.

Another 78 staff members, who are also members of the Food and Allied Workers' Union (Fawu) will have their CMMA hearing on the 7th of July.

A spokesperson for FAWU in the Eastern Cape Ndyebo Mpambani said at this point they are taking the matter to the CCMA under Section 41 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act as it relates to severance packages.

Under this section, an employer must pay an employee who is dismissed for reasons based on operational requirements or whose contract of employment terminates or is terminated in terms of section 38 of the Insolvency Act.

Inge Hacker, who acts as a Director for the former owner of the property "John Michael PTY Limited" told Algoa FM News that she was aware of the CCMA order to the amount of over R800 000 and was only last week informed about the CMMA case involving union members.

When asked when she would pay the orders already made by the CCMA, Hacker responded by saying that it was a very complicated matter.

She says the business the Hotel traded under, Bex Hotel has no money and owes it's creditors millions.

She says it was an appalling state of affairs and she feels dreadful for all the staff members involved.

FAWU's Mpambane says the land was sold to John Micheal PTY for R88 million and cannot understand how there can be no money to give staff what they are rightfully owed.

Hacker says staff have been misled and that she tried to explain to them as far back as January 2019, but was not allowed to speak to staff in her capacity as director at the time.

A family feud between Hacker and her brother Mark Hartmann is a story well known by all the staff.

Hacker claims that her brother had her removed as director after which she went to court to successfully have him declared as a delinquent director.

Mpambane says the fight between Hacker and Hartmann is not their concern as they only want their money.

Senior staff members who spoke to Algoa FM News on condition of anonymity said for the financial year of 2018/2019 their taxes were deducted from their salaries but never paid over to SARS.

Mpambane confirmed this and said even staff members' membership fees were deducted but never reached the coffers of FAWU.

He says contributions to staff's provident funds had also been irregular. 

Besides for fighting for what is rightfully theirs, staff are also struggling to file their tax returns for the 2018/2019 financial year, because they need a liquidation certificate, something Hecker admits to not having.

According to a report drawn from the Registration of Companies, Co-operatives and Intellectual Property Rights of South-Africa (CIPC), Bex is still in business.

Hecker, who serves as a director to both companies Bex and John Michaels, says they are two different companies with different shareholders.

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