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130 City of Joburg employees get reprieve from labour court

22 April 2022 - 16:22
Pending a resolution of a dispute referred to the bargaining council by 130 City of Johannesburg employees, the city is interdicted from implementing a council resolution rescinding an earlier decision taken in March 2021 to convert staff from contract to permanent. Stock photo.
Pending a resolution of a dispute referred to the bargaining council by 130 City of Johannesburg employees, the city is interdicted from implementing a council resolution rescinding an earlier decision taken in March 2021 to convert staff from contract to permanent. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/STOCKSTUDIO44

The labour court on Friday interdicted the City of Johannesburg from implementing a council resolution rescinding the decision taken by the mayoral committee last year that converted 130 staff from contract to permanent.

The interim order will apply pending the resolution of the dispute that the employees have referred to the SA local government bargaining council (SALGBC).

The employees who approached the court are employed across various departments by the city, including the office of the chief whip, the office of the mayor and the caucuses of the parties represented on the council.

They are employed as drivers, office managers, researchers and assistant directors and fulfil their duties irrespective of which political party is in power.

They were initially employed on fixed-term contracts.

On March 1 2021, after a decision by the mayoral committee taken on February 25 2021, they received notices that their fixed term contracts were converted to an indefinite term, meaning they became full-time employees.

However, on February 25 this year, the council rescinded the 2021 decision to employ them permanently. It decided to convert their employment to a fixed term to terminate on April 30 this year.

The employees were informed of this decision on February 28.

On March 17, the employees lodged a dispute with the bargaining council about the “unilateral change to terms and conditions of employment” and “unfair labour practice”.

After the referral of the dispute, the attorney for the employees requested the municipality to withdraw the notice informing them of the conversion of the employment contracts to allow the SALGBC process to unfold.

They also requested the city to provide an undertaking that it would not take any action, including advertising the positions, pending the outcome of the SALGBC processes.

The city refused, prompting the employees to launch the urgent application.

In her decision, labour court judge Connie Prinsloo said the employees are facing “a real apprehension of harm”.

“The detrimental consequences they stand to suffer, should their employment be terminated by the end of April 2022 while their dispute is still being adjudicated, will cause them undue harm and hardship which may be irreparable,” Prinsloo said.

The "remedy" was a temporary injunction in the form of an interim interdict protecting the existing state of affairs pending the finalisation of the dispute referred to the bargaining council on March 17.

The court ordered the city to pay the costs of the application.

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