When Tshepang's* first child was born, he dropped out of school to work and take care of his daughter's needs. The young father spent every day since, striving to make life as comfortable as he can for his two kids.
It hasn't been easy, he says. He has never known permanent employment. Instead, he has worked as a contractor at various state entities, including the South African Broadcasting Corporation and, currently, Eskom.
His current contract sees his salary filtered through two labour broking companies before it reaches him. The young father of two has been working as a cleaner and furniture remover at Eskom's head offices in Sunninghill, Johannesburg, since 2014.
He earns just over R3 000 a month.
Making ends meet
"This company (EPM) was hired by Eskom," he says, referring to Eris Periscopic Masingita Joint Venture.
"EPM then hired Lepro," adds Tshepang, pointing to the two logos on his work uniform. Lepro Corporation is a labour broking company that specialises in commercial cleaning and sanitation service.
"When they pay us, the money has to go through EPM before it reaches Lepro," he says. By the time his salary is paid to him, he is left with less than the R3 500 national minimum wage.
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"There is a lot that we go through at Eskom that makes us unhappy," says Tshepang. "We have to borrow money from their permanent staff every month to make ends meet."
In addition to supporting his two children, Tshepang also travels from Soweto to Sunninghill every morning to get to work. This expense chews through close to half of his salary.
"I really wish to see Eskom hire us permanently and end all the outsourcing," he says. "It would change my life. I know I'll be able to support my kids and when they go to varsity, I can pay their way."
*Tshepang chose to conceal his true identity for fear of losing his job.
Witness Chauke is not afraid to speak truth to power. He says it was for this reason that his contract was terminated. He was the chairperson of his group of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) members at Eskom before his contract was terminated.
Chauke has worked at Eskom for five years under a security company called Venus Security Solutions.
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In April 2018, Chauke says the company's contract with Eskom came to end and was replaced by a company called Bhekani Abantu Services.
The new company then interviewed the workers for the positions they had with the previous company.
After the interviews, Chauke says he and nine of his colleagues were notified that their contracts had been terminated.
Michael Douman, Bhekani Abantu Services' group HR manager says: "We followed our own recruitment process and, unfortunately, those individuals did not do too well on them."
Chauke says Numsa took the case to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), where it was decided that the case would go to arbitration.
"We are still waiting for the arbitration date," says Chauke.
News24 contacted Eskom for comment and received the following response from the media desk: "It is a practise within Eskom to utilise contracted security services, the contracting process is governed by the Eskom Procurement and Supply Chain Management process.
"Thereafter, Eskom focuses on the contractor performance and delivery as per the contracted scope and is not involved in the contractor's recruitment process."