City of Joburg insists reversal of contract conversion is final as staffers threaten court action

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Mpho Phalatse.
Mpho Phalatse.
Tebogo Letsie/City Press
  • The City of Joburg says the decision to reverse the contract conversions of 130 staffers is final. 
  • The staffers have threatened to go to court.
  • The mayor's office says it will oppose any legal action taken against it. 

The City of Johannesburg says it will oppose legal action and insists the council decision taken in February to reverse the contract conversion of a group of staffers will not be rescinded.  

The City's response to the contract dispute with 130 staffers follows threats from the workers about possible court action.

In February, the Joburg council reversed a mayoral committee decision taken last year, while the ANC governed the metro, allowing the conversion of fixed-term contracts to permanent ones.

According to the new DA-led multi-party coalition government, the council never approved the decision. It was deemed illegal and reversed.

READ | Now City of Joburg has Sandton City in its crosshairs over R168m municipal bill

The staffers were given notices, followed by a decision to notify them that their contracts had been converted to the original form. 

The contracts expire at the end of April. 

In a race against time, the staffers sent a list of demands to the City.

They demanded that February's council decision should not be implemented. If the City does not do so by 18 March, they will approach the Bargaining Council, the Labour Court or the High Court. 

The staffers have been threatening legal action against the City for weeks, but are yet to act.

READ | City of Joburg contract saga: 'I don't have any political affiliations, this hurts'

In a statement by their lawyer, Mojalefa Motalane, the group said the City had contravened a series of legal processes.

Motalane said the City had no legal basis for reversing the mayoral decision taken by the ANC in 2021.

"The decision (October 2021 contract conversion) remains valid until it is reviewed and set aside by a court of law – the administrator who made the decision cannot undo its decision. That decision is binding until set aside by mutual acquiescence of the affected parties or by a court of law.

"Therefore, the purported rescission of the decision by the council is irregular, irrational and unlawful on this ground and/or on the basis that our clients vested and/or accrued rights were not investigated before the council decided to reverse the conversion," Motalane said.

Motalane said the court action would focus on the legality of the decision taken in February.

City of Joburg responds

Mabine Seabe, the spokesperson for the mayor, Mpho Phalatse, said the City would challenge any legal action brought against it regarding the contract conversion matter.

"The Johannesburg multi-party government has been clear in stating that the decision taken by the mayoral committee, council and the City administration was and is a matter of compliance with the law, not a labour issue. In the instance that we are met with legal action, we will be opposing it.

"The City's lawyers, this morning, responded to the representatives of the affected political staff, stating that the decisions taken will not be reversed. Furthermore, to reverse the council's resolution would be an endorsement of the erstwhile mayoral committee's unlawful and irregular decision. We cannot play fast and loose with the law," Seabe told News24.

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