Wed. Sep 23rd, 2020

#JobsSaveLives: Franschhoek march against restaurant restrictions

Desperate Franschhoek restaurant staff and owners took to the street today in the nationwide #JobsSaveLives protest against lockdown.

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The hospitality industry in the Franschhoek Wine Valley stood in solidarity with others in the #JobsSaveLives movement across the nation today.  

Staff placed tables and chairs in the street as part of the restaurant-led “Million seats on the streets” peaceful protest.

The protest, which hundreds in the Winelands town took part in, highlighted the disastrous impact of stringent lockdown regulations on restaurants and the hospitality industry.

The reintroduced 21:00 curfew as well as the ban on alcohol announced on 12 July has crushed many restaurants.

The regulations have debilitated businesses in the Franschhoek Valley, a well-known tourist destination and home to many restaurants.

Big turnout for #JobsSaveLives

There was a large turnout of marchers with community members, restaurant owners and staff coming out in force.

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Franschhoek restaurant staff and owners supported the #JobsSaveLives protest on 22 July. Image: Emma Gordon

Many held posters begging the government to take action. Taxis, rubbish trucks and food supplier trucks hooted in support as they drove down the main road.

‘Our business is dead’

Neil Jewell, owner of Jewell’s Restaurant in Paarl and an ex-Franschhoek restauranteur, urged the government to listen to the plight of restaurants.

“We are asking the president to let us open and do our job,” Jewell said.

“We just want them to understand that we are responsible; we do look after our guests and have strict hygiene protocols.”

Jewell went on to say that the restaurant industry could not continue to operate without selling wine or beer as it is “part of the package”. Jewell’s business has only been operating for nine months.

“Our business is dead. We cannot afford the salary bills for staff, we believed in what we could do and this came around and knocked us for a six. We want our jobs back to do what we do best,” he said.

Erratic UIF payments

Many restaurateurs says UIF/TERS pay-outs have been slow, inconsistent or non-existent.

Amanda Vinci, who works at the Elephant & Barrel Pub in Franschhoek, is protesting because she cannot put food on the table or provide for her family.

“It has been very bad. I can’t even afford sanitiser because we are not getting salaries. UIF is taking forever and up until now we have not received any form of income,” she said.

She said the government had done very little and had not followed up on the promises made.

#JobsSaveLives in Franschhoek

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Waiter Tedious Nkomo marched in today’s #JobsSaveLives protest in Franschhoek.
Image: Emma Gordon

UIF/TERS payments have been particularly slow to go to foreign nationals. Some said they had been paying UIF for years but had not yet received a cent.

“I am struggling, I have not received any UIF which means it has been really tough for me,” said Zimbabwean waiter Tedious Nkomo.

The French Connection Bistro waiter  sends money to his parents who live in Zimbabwe and he also needs to provide for his family in South Africa.

“My wish is that we can open as quickly as possible so that I can earn a living, I have a family to look after. That is why I am demonstrating,” Nkomo said.

‘Mr President, please help us’

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Julian Johannes was one of the protesters in today’s #JobsSaveLives march in Franschhoek.
Image: Emma Gordon

Many of the protesters said they had families to provide for and were struggling to survive on little or no income.

“We don’t have money, we don’t have enough food, we can’t pay rent,” said Joey Kivedo, an employee at Haute Cabriere Wine Estate.

Kivedo’s co-worker Sune Leibrandt said they were grateful for the little the government had done, but it was not enough.

Julian Johannes, who works at La Bri Wine Estate, said that she did not have a lot of income and she was struggling.

“I need to support six people in my home and at the moment I don’t have food on my table. I am supporting the protest because I want my job back. This morning I didn’t have anything to eat but I came here to do my part,” Johannes said.

She implored the government to listen: “Please Government, please Mr President, whoever makes the decisions please help us and make the right decision. Save our jobs.”

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