Charges of discrimination against employees is one sided, says Muni

POLOKWANE – The DA requested the SAHRC to probe the Polokwane Municipality for unfairly discriminating against its employees based on their age.

“The allegations made by a DA councillor are one sided and misleading as the statement made by the party conveniently does not mention the matter is still being heard in a court of law and thus sub judice,” Mothapo said.

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The affected employees who pick up litter, according to DA councillor Tiny Chidi, whose ages ranges between 50 and 60, had referred their case to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) which discovered that, during a restructuring process, the municipality failed to offer them permanent employment in 2015 and rejected them on the basis of their age. The employees were temporarily employed in the Waste Management Section of the municipality in 2014.

According to the CCMA report, currently in the DA’s possession, the municipality had argued it was an inherent requirement that employees had to be physically fit to be able to do the job of picking up litter. The CCMA found the decision by the municipality not to appoint the applicants on a permanent basis due to their age, constituted unfair discrimination.

The municipality was then ordered to appoint the applicants on a permanent basis and to further pay the remuneration and benefits attached to the permanent posts. The recommendations were due to be instated retrospective with effect from 1 August 2015, but the municipality failed to implement the recommendations.

“Section 6 of the Employment Equity Act indicates no person may unfairly discriminate, directly or indirectly, against an employee in any employment policy or practice, on one or more grounds including race, gender, pregnancy, age and disability among others. The DA urged the SAHRC to probe this matter and ensure the municipality implements the CCMA’s recommendations,” Chidi said.

Chidi added in a DA-led municipality, they will always endeavour to subscribe to the rule of law and use fair employment equity practices that expand opportunity to every resident.

In reply to these allegations, Mothapo said it is not true the Polokwane Municipality failed to implement the arbitration award because the case was still to be heard before the Labour Court.

“There was a recruitment process which did not favour the applicants, not because of their age, but physical inherent requirements of their job. Inherent requirements of a job cannot be classified as unfair labour practice so long the inherent requirements apply to every applicant equally,” he said, adding the municipality has reservations about the merits on how the hearing was conducted based on comparative ability of representation and the recommendations thereof.

“Those are the grounds for taking the matter on review to the Labour Court which is yet to set a trial date,” he said.

Mothapo added the workers in question were appointed by the municipality on a temporary basis where they worked for a few months at a time before their contracts were terminated. They were again appointed on a temporary basis by the municipality at a later stage and thus were never appointed permanently.

“They just let us go, seven people. I have been working with the municipality since 2004 but have never been employed permanently. They took on people who live far away, from Ga-Matlala and Mashashane, while we lived in Seshego. I was 42 years old when they appointed the permanent employees and I have a wife and three children to take care of.

“The money is not enough; I used to receive around R3 000 per month and if I was lucky and worked every day, including weekends, I got R4 000,” one of the ex-workers told BONUS on condition of anonymity due to fear of victimisation.

His complaint is that they have worked for a long time for the municipality and have been overlooked when permanent appointments were made. “Permanent workers get pension and other benefits when they retire, and we get nothing. They also earn R9 000 while we earn a pittance,” he added.

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