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Parties criticize mayor of Joburg for ‘increasing unemployment’

Several political parties in the city of Joburg criticized mayor Mpho Phalatse for the impending dismissal of 130 employees because of their employment contracts.

The city is engaged in a tug-of-war with the staffers being put to the test after the council made a decision on Feb. 25 to terminate their permanent contracts.

The city considered the conversion of their fixed-term contracts to permanent as an illegal act by the previous mayor’s committee, which it said was not authorized to do so.

According to Phalatse, the “illegal conversions” would cost the city R59 million a year.

Representatives from the UDM, PAC, Al Jama-ah and the African Independence Congress accused Phalatse of deliberately making staff unemployed in the face of rising high unemployment.

“With the country reaching an unemployment rate of almost 40% and the Covid-19 pandemic has hit many people trying to make ends meet, it is alarming to hear that the city of Johannesburg is deliberately working to increase unemployment statistics.

“The employee contracts that are being revoked are for subordinate staff working in the political offices and these appointments have been made legitimate to even staff members of the [former DA mayor] Herman Mashaba,” the parties said in a joint briefing.

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Meanwhile, the workers’ lawyers Motalane Inc has written and accused the city of unfair labor practices and intimidation of the affected workers. The lawyers asked the city to give the staff more time to discuss before they can appeal.

Their union, the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), who has threatened to take the employer to court, wanted the representation term to be postponed to Wednesday.

The political parties claimed that there were several white staffers who were part of the conversions but unaffected.

“The deputy director in the chairman’s office was also one of the associates who was converted but has not been affected by these evil acts of the DA-led administration. The Council that has approved the conversions cannot play an umpire and a player at the same time. As such, we, as some minorities in the city of Johannesburg, reject the approved report of the withdrawal of workers’ contracts. If necessary, the case must come to court earlier.”

The city has, through lawyers Tshiqi Zebediela Incnotify Motalane Inc and Samw on Monday that representations must be filed by Wednesday.

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