Firms 'underpaid' black workers in South Africa

(First Edition)

SIXTEEN British companies paid black workers in South Africa below the minimum level recommended by the European Community, according to official statistics published today, writes Barrie Clement.

The figures, which the British government refuses to publish, show that the worst offender was Lonrho, which paid 334 employees the low rates.

A TUC report using the data showed that 600 black workers were being underpaid by British firms. Apart from Lonrho, the companies at fault were BPB Industries, with 34 employees below the rate, Frank Fehr (8), Hickson International (44), Hunting (2), Low & Bonar (27), Siebe (141), T&N Holdings (1), Telfos Holdings (9) and Wimpey (1).

Six other firms admitted paying black staff below the EC recommended minimum, but failed to tell the DTI the numbers involved, the TUC said. They were Cadbury Schweppes, Courtaulds Textiles, General Electric Company, Great Universal Stores, Marley and Suter.

The minimum level is calculated by the University of South Africa on the assumption that the worker belongs to a family of five, and is usually fixed at 50 per cent above the poverty level.