One of South Africa’s most iconic landmarks, the Carlton Centre in Johannesburg, is currently facing a standstill in operations.

Approximately 105 security officers and 60 cleaners are requesting to be insourced by the state-owned enterprise Transnet, which is the owner of the building. In response to their demands, they have taken the step of locking all the doors in the 50-storey building, causing a halt in the activities of various businesses, including shops.

Sylvia Poppy, a security officer with almost two decades of experience, shared with Daily Sun that they feel they have been exploited for an extended period. Allegedly, they have not received any benefits, such as UIF and provident fund, despite deductions being made from their pay slips. Poppy mentioned that Transnet frequently changes security companies, and some of them allegedly leave without fulfilling payment obligations. Even when these companies return at a later stage, the workers claim they are not compensated for what is owed to them.

Carlton Centre in Joburg remains closed. Photo Sylvester Sibiya

Workers Advocate for Direct Employment by Transnet Amid UIF Concerns and Contract Disputes

Some companies, she mentioned, only managed to operate for around two weeks before disappearing.

Reflecting on her two-decade tenure since 2004, she expressed frustration, stating, ‘Despite working here for 20 years, I don’t have UIF. Money is deducted from our payslips, leading us to believe we have UIF. However, the Department of Labour has received nothing.’

According to her, security companies negotiating contracts with management also owe them. Surprisingly, Transnet appears unconcerned about this issue.

The collective demand from the workers is clear: they no longer desire intermediaries. Instead, they seek direct employment by Transnet.

Carlton Centre in Joburg remains closed. Photo Sylvester Sibiya

Protest at Carlton Centre: Security Officers and Cleaners Seek Resolution with Transnet

Security officers marched to the Department of Public Enterprises to submit a memorandum, but saw no change in response. Cleaners claimed they haven’t received payment since the alleged termination of the previous cleaning company’s contract on 8 November.

An employee voiced frustration: “We work without pay and were told those who wish to leave are free to do so.” Union leaders and management held day-long discussions on Wednesday, 22 November, seeking resolution. Workers insisted that the building would remain closed until a new agreement was signed, halting business operations.

Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) spokesperson Xolani Fihla confirmed their presence at the calm scene. The protest centered around security personnel seeking absorption by Transnet, closing entrances for both workers and customers.

Fihla assured, “The situation is peaceful, and police are on standby. We are awaiting engagement between security personnel and Transnet.” Police will maintain a watchful eye for any signs of violence. Despite promises, Transnet had not commented on the situation at the time of publishing.