Staff at Tshwane House, the City's head office, was forced to evacuate the building in a hurry this afternoon after a standoff between police and a group of protesting former contract workers who are demanding to be permanently employed by the City of Tshwane.
The 627 former contract workers, known as "capacity employees", were employed on a fixed 12-month contract from October 2019 to October 2020. When their employment contract ended last year, the City sent them a termination letter on 5 November 2020, inviting them to visit their human resources agent to complete a slew of documents, including an Unemployment Insurance Fund form (UI19), which formalised their termination. However, the former employees refused to heed the call to come forward to complete the forms, insisting instead to be permanently absorbed into the employ of the City.
The contract entered into between the City and the former contract workers in 2019 explicitly stated that the contract was for a duration of 12 months (one year). The City made it clear that it had no intention of absorbing them as there was neither a need nor a budget appropriated for their permanent employment. The former employees are adamant that their contracts were unlawfully terminated.
The City is of the view that these contracts were lawfully terminated at the end of October 2020. The City has already successfully defended its position at arbitration and is now awaiting the final outcome of the dispute at the Labour Court in Johannesburg.
The contract workers have also alleged that "some people" at the City promised them permanent employment, but they could not adduce any documentation to substantiate their claim.
The disgruntled former "capacity employees" staged a sit-in at Tshwane House since the beginning of this week, intimidating and preventing employees and visitors from entering and exiting the building. They have also circulated video clips in which they made veiled threats against certain employees of the City.
Tensions escalated this afternoon after they pelted police with stones who retaliated with rubber bullets.
The City of Tshwane will strive to ensure that service delivery is not adversely impacted by the unfortunate occurrence of this afternoon and will not hesitate to call on law enforcement to provide safety and security to employees to enable them to perform their tasks free of intimidation.