Johannesburg - The City of Johannesburg employees axed by the DA-led coalition are threatening to institute further legal action against the municipality after losing their challenge to the termination of their contracts at the Labour Court.
More than 100 employees launched a bid to reverse the city’s resolution to overturn the previous ANC-led administration’s decision to convert their terms of employment from fixed-term to permanent.
The municipality insists the move by the ANC was illegal.
Labour Court Judge André van Niekerk this week struck the employees’ bid to overturn the termination of their contracts from the roll on a technicality.
”The applicants (the aggrieved employees) have been unable to point to any provision of the Labour Relations Act or any other statute that confers jurisdiction on this court to determine the dispute that serves before this court,” Judge Van Niekerk said.
The judge found the employees’ pleadings did not disclose a claim based on the constitutionality of the City of Johannesburg’s actions and did not seek a review of any of its decisions on the grounds for review permissible in law.
According to papers filed in court, the employees maintain their contracts were validly amended through the conversion from fixed-term to permanent status in March last year.
However, the City of Johannesburg, following the ousting of the ANC after last year’s local government elections, rescinded the decision to covert the fixed-term to permanent status in February.
In their challenge, the employees said the decision was lawful as it was taken by the mayoral committee and the then city manager, who both exercised their lawfully delegated powers.
“As the leadership of the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) in the Johannesburg region, we have briefed our legal team to urgently read this judgment and advised on possible avenues available for the workers.
“Samwu, being the only vanguard of workers in the City of Johannesburg, undertakes to explore any legal recourse in pursuit of justice,” promised the union’s Joburg regional secretary Thobani Nkosi.
The City of Johannesburg has welcomed the Labour Court ruling, saying it was a victory for its fight against corruption and demonstrated its firm commitment to always uphold the rule of law.
“We have also reduced the former government's bloated political offices to realise a saving of R80 million per annum, which can be redirected towards service delivery for residents,” City of Johannesburg spokesperson McKinnley Mitchell said.
Mitchell added the municipality would now proceed with the recruitment of new, qualified political staff on fixed-term contracts.
In a separate matter, Samwu secured the reinstatement of 52 Ekurhuleni Metro waste management services employees at the SA Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC), which found that the group was opportunistically, recklessly and unfairly accused of burning a truck owned by the municipality’s contractor.
The SALGBC ordered the municipality to reinstate the workers as of May 1 with back pay of more than R3m.
”We call on the city (of Ekurhuleni) to personally recoup these financial losses from the individuals who were responsible for the summarily dismissal of these workers,” Samwu said.
The union believes recouping the money from those responsible for firing the workers will deter municipalities and senior managers from dismissing workers willy-nilly and without following due processes.