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By Getrude Makhafola

Premium Journalist

Parties slam Joburg mayor for ‘increasing unemployment rate’

Parties claim that there are white staffers whose contracts were also converted but are not facing the chop.

Several political parties in the City of Joburg lambasted mayor Mpho Phalatse for the looming dismissal of 130 staffers over their job contracts.

The city is embroiled in a tug of war with the staffers who face the chop after the council took a decision on 25 February to rescind their permanent contracts.

The city deemed the conversion of their fixed-term contracts to permanent as an illegal act by the previous mayoral committee, which it said had no powers to do so.

According to Phalatse, the “illegal conversions” would cost the city R59 million per annum.

Representatives of the UDM, PAC, Al Jama-ah and the African Independence Congress accused Phalatse of intentionally rendering staffers jobless in the face of rising high unemployment rate.

“With the country reaching almost 40% unemployment rate and Covid-19 pandemic having affected many people in terms of making ends meet, it is alarming to learn that the City of Johannesburg is intentionally working on increasing unemployment statistics.

“The employee contracts being revoked are for junior personnel working in the political offices and these appointments were legitimately made to even include staff members coming from [former DA mayor] Herman Mashaba,” the parties said in a joint briefing.

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Meanwhile, the workers’ attorneys Motalane Inc has written to the city, accusing it of unfair labour practises and intimidation against the affected employees. The lawyers requested that the city give the staffers more time to consult before they can make representations.

Their union, the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), which has threatened to take the employer to court, wanted the representation deadline to be moved to Wednesday.

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

“The Deputy Director in the Office of the Speaker was also one of the personnel who was converted but is not affected by these malicious acts of the DA-led administration. Council that approved the conversions cannot play a referee and player at the same time. As such, we, as a few minorities in the city of Johannesburg, reject the approved report of revoking employee contracts. If needs be, the matter must rather go to court.”

The city has, through lawyers Tshiqi Zebediela Inc, late on Monday informed Motalane Inc and Samwu that representations have to be done by Wednesday.

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