City of Johannesburg has a march against the end of their contracts Picture: Nkululeko Zondi
By Nkululeko Zondi
City of Johannesburg workers under the Jozi Ihlomile Expanded Publics Works Programme (EPWP) are demanding that their contracts be renewed in June. The workers, whose contracts are due to end, were marching with the Independent Liberation Allied Workers Union (ILAWU) marched from Joubert Park to the Metro Centre in Braamfontein on Monday in protest.
Some workers had been working in the EPWP since its inception in 2005. At the beginning of the programme, they were employed through NGOs and later for the city.
'The City was doing away with middleman in the form of NGOs, and they are now creating capacity for the city," said ILAWU President Thapelo Mafa.
Workers said they had spent many years working for the city and were not up-skilled, so that they could be employable elsewhere.
"We have never received any accredited training that would make us employable," said Sphesihle Jele when handing over the memorandum of demands to Johannesburg MMC for Health and Social Development, Ashley Sauls.
Nonkululeko Xaba, a 32-year-old pregnant woman, said she doesn't know how she will survive. She alledged that the City had not being paying her unemployment insurance fund (UIF) as legally required.
She had checked her employment status with the Department of Labour. "I only see all the companies I've previously worked for but not City of Johannesburg, yet they take my UIF contributions every month," she said.
Workers said they have been signing one-year contracts with the city every year. But now their contracts have been terminated by the city while new people have been employed.
Mafa encouraged the workers to return to work while waiting for a response from the MMC next Monday. "Do not train the new people. How can you train someone to take your job from you?', he said.
Sauls acknowledged the legitimacy of their grievances, but said that the complex issue would take some time to resolve. The resolution may not be what the workers wish for, as those who told the workers they would be permanent 'had lied to them'. He also expressed concerns about ILAWU, as it is not a recognised union.