On Friday, 12 April 2013, the Johannesburg Labour Court delivered a judgment in the long standing Fixed Term Contract Dispute in IMATU’s favour. “Judge van Niekerk dismissed the application of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and the Ekurhuleni, Tshwane and Buffalo City Municipalities to set aside the 2006 Settlement Agreement, which aims to regulate the appointment of employees in Local Government on fixed term contracts. This ruling effectively eliminates FTC employment in all municipalities in South Africa and abolishes the discriminatory practise of employing FTC employees at lower conditions of service,” explained IMATU Deputy General Secretary, Craig Adams.
Over time, a large number of employees have been employed on FTC throughout the South African Local Government structures. It is common knowledge that employees on FTC generally have no job security and often have limited or no access to benefits enjoyed by permanent employees. Moreover, the practise of employing persons on fixed term contracts has a negative impact on continuity, institutional memory, capacity building and effective service delivery as employees are constantly replaced.
“The services of FTC employees are often terminated at the whim of municipal management, a practice which IMATU has been fighting since 2006. This results in new employees having to be constantly retained, translating into further, and often unnecessary, training and development costs for municipalities, as well as loss of institutional memory,” explained Adams.
IMATU’s fight to eradicate FTC in Local Government started in the City of Cape Town in 2007, where the union was instrumental in converting approximately 2500 FTC employees to permanent employment. Last September, IMATU successfully secured the conversion of 1000 FTC employees to permanent employment at the City of Joburg.
“Following on from our victory in Johannesburg, IMATU started working on eliminating FTC throughout the entire Local Government Sector. We proceeded with court action against SALGA in November 2012 to enforce a previous Settlement Agreement, which compels all municipalities to appoint all their employees on permanent contracts,” stated Adams.
IMATU pioneered the fight against FTC and this victory reinforces our belief that all forms of abusive atypical employment must be eradicated, in order to promote the principles of decent work, which should be enjoyed by all South African workers.