From Toblerone and Pretzels to Tripe and Polony

4:25 PM

I have a story that I have been wanting to share for quite some time now, but because I have been fighting a vicious battle, I postponed it, until now.


I hope you ready, because I’ve decided it’s time that I share my experience and continued battles so that this might help someone who is currently experiencing doubt/worry and/or a simple warning.
For my protection I am changing the names of the company and owners due to being threatened that should I go to social media with my story, I would be taken to court. I have met with a lawyer and private investigator who both (on separate occasions) told me that I am not doing any wrong by telling my story. The private investigator also told me that Tom* and Jerry* have committed criminal fraud. 

In October 2015 I started working for Slack-Lying Group* as a Permanent Contract Graphic Designer on the launch of their start-up tourism/entertainment company. I signed a Permanent Contractor contract. I won’t lie, at the time, it was the best job I ever had. I was so happy. Finally I found a job where I was earning a good industry paying salary for a woman my age.

Slack-Lying Group* is owned by two foreigners, Tom* (Swiss) and Jerry* (German). There were about 5 additional staff members when I started which soon grew with +- another 5 (excluding copy-writing, research and software developer freelancers). As the company grew so did my excitement... and my lifestyle.

I was finally able to:
·         make it through a month without worrying about month end
·         go out every weekend - whether it be out with friends or sightseeing
·         move up from factory store clothing shopping to actual shopping centres
·         spoil loved ones
·         work from home
AND
·         best of all, upgrade my transportation!


Life was really good. Don’t get me wrong, I worked just as hard as I did partying. Literally “Work hard - Party harder”. I felt safe financially. I worked many many MANY long and late hours (8am - 2/3am the next morning became very normal) and even found myself working a few hours in a busy weekend. I worked like a boss and I loved it.

By January 2016 my life was hitting an amazing peak not worrying that my happy little world will soon came to an end. One day and completely out of the blue, my gut feeling told me “this is too good to be true”. I ignored it - DO. NOT. IGNORE. YOUR. GUT.

At the end of February I started feeling a little more insecure about my job and the company. Eventually the work flow became a little less, colleagues became more and more quiet and their morale was completely flipped upside down. Something wasn’t clicking... but life carried on.

5 March 2016 I upgrade my car despite my worries.

Then on 17 March 2016 everything changed. It started my day like any other working day. At this point I was still on such a high of getting a new car that I pushed the worries aside. Weirdly, that day I never received any communication from my colleagues, but only an email from Tom* who request that I meet with him for a meeting the next day. Later that afternoon, all my previous worries and suspicions were finally confirmed. I received a message from a colleague via Skype:  




not sure if you've heard, but we no longer have jobs - Slack-Lying Group* has gone bust






Just like that. 
Unfortunately, she thought I knew. There is absolutely no way explaining how terrified I was. What am I going to do? Pay day isn’t far... MONTH END ISN'T FAR! I never in my life experienced that amount of sheer panic. My colleague felt terrible that I had found out that way i did. Never the less, I reassured her I would still meet with Tom* the next day and pretend to not know anything.

After surviving a very sleepless night, I drove through to the Slack-Lying Group* office in Cape Town early the next morning. I walked into a dark office where only two colleagues were sitting. The atmosphere was heart breaking. There was really nothing we could say to one another, but try to talk about general things and then eventually what each one’s plans and/or solutions were going to be.

When I met with Tom*, he could see I knew and there was really nothing much we could say to each other. He explained how sorry he was for the situation and hoped that I at least had some freelance work to fall back onto. I explained how I had turned clients away because all my time had been dedicated to Slack-Lying Group*. His head dropped and I can honestly say, he felt bad. Well I thought he did. He told me the investors who had been funding the company, pulled out. They left because illegitimate figures and fake potential clients were brought forward time after time. They lost trust and rightfully so. However, they were willing to invest again on the condition:

·         that the company generates sales from the advertising space available on the Slack-Lying Group* website. Even if it was only a very small figure.

AND

·         to redesign a new image/face for the website.


Tom* asked if my fiancé and I would be willing to stay on to help with the re-branding. He reassured me that no matter what, should investors back out, he would be able to pull money from one of his other businesses abroad. I agreed to stay.

I continued working for Slack-Lying Group* because Tom* was supposed to have been a reputable business man. We also worked really well together. He often told me I was the nicest Graphic Designer he had worked with… who wouldn’t be happy with their job after hearing that!? I put my trust in him. 

BIG MISTAKE.

I continued working very hard through April 2016 only to be told by Tom* that Slack-Lying Group* was unable to pay my fiancé (who was freelancing for the company) and I… BUT that…

first of all we will pay the outstanding amounts asap of course. then my offer/idea would be: please search immediately another job or freelance work. let me know each month how much income you generate. for e.g.- if you make only Y the first month i will give you the difference between X and Y etc. i can do this for the next 3 months if that would help. if Slack Lying-Group* solved LONG TERM all issues and financial issues and you still would like to come back you would be more then welcome. if not i would understand of course. of course i am available for both of you at any time incl. holidays and weekends etc. for skype or meeting

He was never available for face to face meetings after I requested it numerous times, he wouldn’t even answer my calls or even accept a skype call meeting. All he would normally reply with was this:




hi claudia
unfortunately we still dont have a date. we are still working on it. i am sorry.
i hope you will find soon a new job or work.




The next three months went by and I received absolutely nothing. Nothing. Nada. There are thousands of emails between myself, fiancé and Tom* who later got Jerry* involved in our correspondence. 

Jerry* (co-owner of Slack-Lying Group*) argued that he was not responsible for anything owed and that Slack-Lying Group* was only going to pay once funds became available again. Jerry* told us that he would not be taking any money from his other 3 companies in Cape Town, because he had invested enough already. He also swore at me and threatened to make my life hell if I took my story to Social Media. Tom* also ended up telling us that the clients from his other businesses never paid and therefore he couldn't pay us.

During that tough time of them letting us go, Tom* moved to Malta Spain to start up another business and Jerry* did a “business trip” to Singapore and China where he happily posted a selfie on Facebook posing with a beer:




When a beer takes a selfie and I photobomb ... I thought it was a celebrity beer as it costs the equivalent of three bottles of wine back home ... Welcome to Singapore!” 





This revved up my engine. How can one afford luxuries at that price when you know there are 22 other people struggling to put food on the table because of your negligence and irresponsibility?!

After refusing many of our alternative offers I approached the Department of Labour, Labour Law, CCMA etc. only to be told that they were unable to help due to Slack-Lying Group* physically closing up. They could "never physically locate them"... this is despite the fact that Jerry* has three other businesses with premises in Cape Town! 

The entire situation became a complete mess, but I continued fighting for what was rightfully mine. I sent emails begging, pleading and even compromising for what was owed. During this time, the full time staff were unable to claim their UIF because Slack-Lying Group* had not paid over the deducted UIF from staffs' salaries, to the UIF themselves. Slack-Lying Group* was basically a ghost. 

I was told, by the Department of Labour, that the Slack-Lying Group* is responsible for my salary and I quote "if the work was done, it needs to be paid for". Jerry* argues otherwise. By law, they are responsible, but unfortunately companies and people like this manage to dodge bullets for as long as they can.

The company also never followed any legal liquidation procedures and have still, to this day, kept their business name open (even though Tom* and Jerry* claim the company has no funds). Both Tom* and Jerry* still advertise themselves as owners of Slack-Lying Group* on Social Media.

It’s almost a year later and nothing has been paid back. I won't tell you how much it is... but just to give you an idea, take a little over a three month salary and burn it.. gone. How does that make you feel? Really crappy, heartbroken and frustrated. 

I will not stop fighting and if there is any advice I can give to anyone out there, stay strong and fight your battles.

#freedomofspeech #tomandjerrymustfall #slacklyinggroupmustfall




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