No need to panic over driving licences, Minister assures
The production team at the entity declared that millions of South Africans would have to go without licences until they were given permanent positions.
In a show of unity, the workers vowed: “The driving licence cards of South Africa are at a standstill for the third consecutive week. There is no one to run the production machine and no one is getting their licences.
“There is already a backlog of 140 000 cards.”
But Nzimande said employees had refused to renew their contracts with the department and demanded permanent employment instead. “What is also critical to note is that the entity is undergoing its yearly routine maintenance of its machinery and systems.
“In the event of unforeseen delays, it has put in place contingency plans to recover on their turn-around time and deliver the cards as per prevailing standards.”
The disgruntled group said they had been working at the company for 20 years before the company was taken over by the department. Employees said three years after they were transferred to the department, they were still contract workers. They called this a violation of their rights.
They quoted the Labour Act, which states that if a transfer of a business takes place, unless stated otherwise, the new employer is automatically substituted in the place of the old employer in respect of all contracts of employment in existence immediately before the date of transfer.
In terms of the legislation, anything done before the transfer by or in relation to the old employer, including the dismissal of an employee, is considered to have been done in relation to the new employer; and the transfer does not interrupt an employee’s continuity of employment.
Tuesday marked the fourth working day since employees were shown the door after raising their dissatisfaction regarding new contracts. They remained locked out of their Erasmuskloof premises.
Although they had been transferred from being an entity according to the Labour Act, the group said their new contract stated that they were not transferred in accordance with the legislation, which meant they would forfeit all benefits for the years they had worked.
They further said that while they were given eight-month contracts, interns were given a year contract.
The department said acting Director-General Chris Hlabisa would soon meet all stakeholders, including management and employees of the entity, to resolve the impasse.