Former Midrand workers look to end 22-year old dispute

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On Thursday 7 April, former Midrand Workers will be lobbying the Mayoral Committee of Executive Mayor Parks Tau to demand that the City cast aside a mis-directed decision it took in 2013 to reject the possibility of absorbing the former Midrand Workers into the City workforce.

The former Midrand Workers were wrongly dismissed in 1994 at the birth of our democracy for taking industrial action against corruption and nepotism when they discovered that personnel in the Human Resources Department were taking and demanding bribes for jobs.

In addition to being wrongly dismissed in 1994, the whereabouts of their pension entitlement is a matter requiring serious investigation, and has been reported to the Financial Services Board. Pensions have not been paid out to those who have reached retirement age or who have passed away. Their pensions were transferred to a Pensions Management Agency based in Kempton Park that also involves former Midrand officials. The whereabouts of their pensions remains a mystery.

In 2013, the last time the Mayoral Committee discussed this matter, they were informed in a secret report from the Corporate and Shared Services Directorate Labour Relations Dept that a Labour Court Ruling had been made against the workers, and this was a decisive factor in the Mayoral Committee rejecting the claims of the Midrand Workers.  In fact, there has never been a Labour Court Ruling against the workers! The Mayoral Committee was ill-advised by officers in the Labour Relations Dept. The Midrand Workers were only permitted to see the report after the Mayoral Committee had rejected their claims and noted other gross inaccuracies.  

The head of the Labour Relations Dept who compiled the report was employed by Midrand Council in 1994 and was at the centre of the original dispute involving a bribes for jobs scandal. Why he would mislead Mayoral Committee members is a matter of serious concern. 

By using access to information legislation, the Midrand Workers have now been able to prove that the information included in the report was without any verification whatsoever, was grossly misleading and not based on fact.

The Midrand Workers have now circulated a comprehensive report to the Executive Mayor and every member of the Mayoral Committee containing a 21 year time-line of the dispute, and attached to it are documents verifying each and every one of the claims they have made. There is now no excuse for the Mayoral Committee not to re-open discussions on this matter. The report has also been given to the Premier and the appropriate MEC.

The former Midrand Workers, now numbering 270+ women and men have maintained their campaign to be employed by the City ever since the original dispute in 1994, and the dissolution of the Midrand Council in the late 90’s. They have continued to meet in Ivory Park (Tembisa) every Sunday morning, and have enlisted a very wide variety of supporters from all quarters. They are absolutely determined to continue their campaign, despite broken promises, and setbacks. They are an inspiration to all those fighting against corruption.

The Midrand Workers deserve the support of the entire labour movement and civil society for being prepared to fight corruption and nepotism. They have faced terrible hardships for making a stand against corruption. Instead of being treated like common criminals, they should be congratulated for being prepared to make untold sacrifices in the fight for a corruption free local government, and all efforts should now be made to find a resolution of this 21 year long dispute once and for all.

The workers therefore are calling upon Executive Mayor Parks Tau and the entire Mayoral Committee to re-open discussions without delay, and to sit down with the workers and their Union DEMAWUSA and find a mutually acceptable resolution to this dispute without delay. A failure to grasp this opportunity will not be without serious consequences.