THE National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has secured a significant victory at the Labour Appeals Court for contract workers.
NUMSA went to the appeals court to seek clarity on the rights of contract workers after the three-month period as referred to in the LRA s198A(3)(b) kicks in.
The Labour Appeals Court handed down a decision to reinforce the rights of temporary workers who are contracted by Temporary Employment Services (TES).
The case involved a company called Assign Services, a labour broking company, which was supplying contract staff to Krost Shelving and Racking.
Assign Services believed that after a period of three months lapsed, contract workers would be the responsibility of both Krost and Assign.
“As NUMSA, we contended that the placed workers should be deemed as full-time employees of Krost, as they had been contracted to work there in excess of three months. In terms of the law, Krost was the sole employer. However, Assign Services, the labour broking company, disagreed. They believed that the workers were the responsibility of Assign and Krost as ‘dual employers’, and that the temporary contract remained intact,” NUMSA general secretary Irvin Jim stated.
He stated that initially, the CCMA found that Krost must assume full responsibility as the sole employer but Assign was unhappy with the outcome and applied to the Labour Court to review the decision.
Jim stated that the Labour Court overturned the decision of the Commissioner.
He stated that NUMSA took the case to the Labour Appeals Court, which upheld the decision of the CCMA that “indeed, contract workers automatically become full-time employees of the main employer after the three-month period”.
As NUMSA, we are pleased that the court has reinforced the principle that the purpose of temporary employment is short-term. If it extends beyond three months, then a worker automatically becomes a permanent employee of the employer,
He stated that the case also confirmed that once permanent, contract workers must be treated the same as permanent employees with the same rights and benefits.
This is a victory for contract and temporary workers everywhere. It confirms that labour brokers may not exploit workers on contract for indefinite periods of time,
“We have seen this example in Transnet in Richards Bay where 50 workers had their contracts terminated in order to circumvent the application of this law,” Jim stated.
Hw stated that the workers worked in excess of three months and yet Transnet had refused to grant them permanent status.
Jim stated that NUMSA would now pursue their plight even more aggressively and demand justice for the members.
NUMSA has proven once again that we are a militant trade union, which is willing to go all the way in fighting for the rights of our members. Whilst other trade unions are preoccupied with ANC factional battles, NUMSA is fighting for workers’ rights. By securing this victory we have strengthened the rights of temporary workers everywhere in South Africa. Forward with Socialism!