On 14 January 2020, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) represented dismissed workers of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality in the Labour Court. The applicants in this case were employed twice, and unfairly dismissed twice, by the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality.

The applicants, who are supported by the Casual Workers Advice Office, were semi-skilled workers who formed part of the Lungile Mtshali Development Plan Project, a “job-creation programme”, which promised them practical and theoretical training as well as the formation of co-operatives. This never happened. Instead, they worked for the Municipality fulfilling the Municipality’s obligations of, amongst other things, cleaning streets and drains but without the benefits of employment.

The applicants were first employed on 3 March 2014, by the Municipality under the Lungile Mtshali Development Plan. While working for the Municipality, they wanted to be recognised as permanent employees because the work that they did was not temporary in nature and there was no justifiable reason for fixing the term of their contracts. As a result, they referred a case to the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) to be declared permanent employees of the Municipality in terms of section 198B of the Labour Relations Act. Shortly after this, they were dismissed.

The applicants were employed a second time on 14 December 2015, when they signed a further contract of employment with a company called Hlaniki Investment Holdings and Gauteng Enterprise Propeller. In terms of this contract, they continued performing the same work for the Municipality, but without the benefits promised in terms of the “job-creation programme”. The applicants wanted to be recognised as permanent employees of the Municipality but instead were later dismissed. As a result, they referred a second case to the SALGBC in terms of section 198A of the Labour Relations Act to be declared permanent employees of the Municipality.

“Job creation programmes often lead to the exploitation of workers, whether intentionally or due to negligence in the management thereof, instead of actually alleviating poverty and creating jobs. In cases like this, Municipalities avoid their obligations as employers resulting in the violation of workers’ rights” said Jessica Lawrence, attorney for LHR.

The applicants want the Labour Court to declare that they were permanent employees of the Municipality in terms of the two contracts, and order their reinstatement effective from 1 July 2015, and order their back-pay up until date of reinstatement. Judgment in this matter was reserved.

For more information, contact Jessica Lawrence.

Phone: 011 339 1960 / 082 772 9857

E-mail: jessical [at] lhr [dot] org [dot] za