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Labour Court reserves judgment in 130 employees’ case against City of Joburg 



Samwu Mpho Phalatse City of Joburg

The Labour Court has reserved its judgment in the case against the City of Joburg relating to the termination of the 130 employees’ contracts.

Last month, the 130 employees, took legal action against the metropolitan municipality following a contract dispute.

This was after the City of Joburg‘s council decided to reverse the workers’ permanent employment.

At the time, Joburg mayor Mpho Phalatse said the council had taken a decision after the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) and the employees’ lawyers missed the deadline to make any representations to challenge the move.

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According to the new Democratic Alliance (DA)-led multi-party coalition government, the conversion of the fixed-term contracts to permanent was irregular and illegal because the decision – taken in October last year – was never approved by the council.

The ANC governed the metro at the time when a mayoral committee took the decision.

While their fixed contracts ended on 1 April, the employee’s legal representative, Mojalefa Motalane, submitted an urgent application –  opposed by the city – to the Labour Court.

The court in Johannesburg heard arguments from both sides on Wednesday, with the judgment being reserved.

As the matter was being heard in court, Samwu, who represent the employees, held a media briefing.

During the press conference, Samwu Tshwane chairperson Nkhetheni Muthavhi accused the DA of double standards, SowetanLIVE reported.

“Those [employees] were employed by the security firms who were working in the City of Tshwane.

“They are now permanent through the particular resolution, without the recruitment being followed — contrary to what is happening in Johannesburg, where the mayco resolved to appoint and is deemed to be illegal because it was done by the ANC,” he said.

“In Tshwane we are saying the City of Tshwane went to their mayco, resolved to convert security guards into permanent [employees].

READ MORE: ‘Intimidation, unfair labour practice’: City of Joburg urged to give workers time

“You can say insourcing [or] you can say you convert them — either way, they are now permanent, but the process was [done by the] mayco,” Muthavhi added. 

Samwu previously argued that the city had no legal grounds for reversing the contracts without a court order.

The DA runs the City of Tshwane along with the Joburg metro.

Phalatse has repeatedly defended the city’s decision to reverse the contracts, which was questioned Gauteng Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Lebogang Maile.

Maile had requested a comprehensive report on the matter, saying he was concerned “the ongoing dispute may have the very real likelihood of causing instability in the municipality”.