Staff of the Gupta-owned company, Oakbay, have cried out on how much they have been affected by the political crisis rocking the investment and are pleading with South African banks to reopen the company’s bank accounts in order to save their jobs.
In an open letter titled “Please Save Our Job” released on Wednesday, the workers appealed to executives of South Africa’s big four banks (ABSA, FNB, Standard Bank and Nedbank) to restore banking services in order for them to be able to secured their jobs.
The workers said they were not concerned about the allegations against the family but are more interested in securing their jobs as that was their main source of income.
“We are not rich people. We are not politically connected. We have not captured the state. We have never offered any politician a job.
“We do not know if any of the allegations against the Gupta family or Oakbay’s management are true. We do not care”, they stated in the letter.
In the wake of accusations by politicians that its owners‚ the Gupta family‚ are exerting improper influence over President Jacob Zuma, the four banks withdrew their ties with the company.
But the workers who have been caught in the middle of the issue, begged the banks saying they should consider their families who they provide for.
“All we care about is providing for our families. If you do not open Oakbay’s bank accounts we cannot be paid and Oakbay cannot pay its bills.”
How will we pay our bills? How will we feed our families? You will not just be hurting us, but our children too. Must they go to school on an empty stomach? What happens when we cannot pay our rent or house bonds? Will our children have to live on the street?
We urge you to recognize that your actions have a human cost. Only a few weeks ago the companies we worked for were profitable and our jobs secure. We do not understand why we have become the victims in a political game.
Please reopen the bank accounts so that we do not have to suffer. We, the employees, have not done anything wrong.”
The employees expressed their shock over the sudden change of things in a company that has favored them. They said just few weeks ago the companies they worked for were profitable and their jobs secured. “We do not understand why we have become the victims in a political game,” they added.
The letter was concluded with a final plea for the banks to reopen the company’s account before the month of May so the workers would retain their jobs.
“If by the end of May the accounts remain closed‚ Oakbay’s businesses will close. That means that thousands of us will be without a job‚” the employees state.
Meanwhile the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) earlier noted that it had met the Gupta family over concerns that staff at its company may be the victims of collateral damage from political battle.
Cosatu spokesman Sizwe Pamla said the federation had made it clear that staff should not bear the brunt of decisions by financial institutions to sever ties with Gupta family linked businesses.
“We made it clear they owe workers more than what you have done so far, and you can’t just act like victims,” he said. At the same time, Cosatu would seek its own engagement with the banks, while also engaging with workers and its affiliated unions in the relevant sectors, such as the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU), he said.
Earlier this month‚ in a letter to staff‚ Oakbay Investments CEO Nazeem Howa said “the closure of our bank accounts has made it virtually impossible to continue to do business in South Africa‚” indicating he was hoping to restore services.