Sedibeng District municipality (on the west rand of Johannesburg) terminated the fixed term contracts of 210 Community Health Care Workers without notice on 18 November 2020. The Acting Municipal Manager, Mr. Z Majola informed the 210 CHWs that their fixed term contracts had lapsed on 30 September 2020. Despite this wrongful termination only two out of 210 CHWs filed their case with the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) this year.
Nonhlanhla Radebe and Jeanette Mofokeng were working at Sedibeng District Municipality as Peer Educators. They worked on a one year fixed term contract which was extended each year for the past five years. They were paid a monthly wage of R2 700. Supervisors earned R3 200 per month, and also worked on a fixed term contract since 2008.
As the municipality had a history of renewing their contracts each year, the CHWs had expectations that the municipality would renew their fixed term contract, but it did not do this. No reasons were given to them and their position is still available.
A fixed term contract is continuously renewed by the employer every year for more than five to 12 times (5 to 12 years). If a fixed term contract is not renewed by the employer, the workers are deemed as dismissed. But according to labour law, a contract may not be terminated in the absence of a justified reason.
The municipality in this case has introduced the practice of “rolling over” the contract every time it expires and this means that the CHWs now have the right to expect that such a situation will continue, especially as they were classified as essential services from the time the state imposed a lockdown due to COVID-19.
Khanya’s Mass Advice Day (MAD) legal team has taken up this case and demanded that the CHWs are reinstated with compensation for the time they have had no income and that CHWs be directly employed by the Department of Health as permanent employees. The case will be heard for arbitration on 23 March 2021 at the South African Local Government Bargaining Council offices in Benoni (east of Johannesburg).
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