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Block’s former spokesman fights dismissal

Politics
Kimberley - The former spokesman for the former MEC for the Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism John Block will be heading to the Labour Court to challenge his dismissal.

Former media liaison officer Lucky Chonga’s fixed-term contract was terminated in May 2016 and the matter was referred for conciliation and arbitration at the General Public Service Sectoral Bargaining Council (GPSSBC), which ruled in favour of the department.

Chonga was charged for absconding from work, while his salary was cut by 56 percent in March 2016.

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Former MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, John Block. Picture: Danie van der Lith

According to his representative union, the Public Allied Workers Union of South Africa (Pawusa), Chonga was the only official to have his contract terminated while the rest of the employees were absorbed into the Ministry.

In its arguments, the union stated that former MEC Block had resigned from his post in October 2015 and that if it was the intention of provincial Treasury to terminate Chonga’s contract in accordance with the fixed-term contract, it would have ended on the same date.

“Chonga was charged and received his letter of termination before the finalisation of his disciplinary hearing.”

The basis of the unfair dismissal challenge was that Chonga was not given the right to a fair hearing and was denied an opportunity to be heard.

Provincial Treasury stated that the fixed-term contract was extended until the current MEC for the Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Mac Jack, was appointed.

It pointed out that the disciplinary hearing could not be concluded as the contract of employment had ended and that while two other officials who were on fixed-term contracts had been absorbed into lower positions, there was no position available for Chonga.

According to the contract, which was entered into on August 1 2014 and would automatically expire on July 31 2019, Chonga’s employment could be terminated when the executive authority (Block) vacated his office prior to the expiry date.

The GPSSBC commissioner Shiraaz Osman was convinced that Chonga’s fixed-term contract had come to an end and did not constitute a dismissal. Osman pointed out that the disciplinary hearing could not continue as Chonga’s fixed-term contract of employment had ended.

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