Twenty-eight female guards were unfairly dismissed by a security company because the client‚ Metrora.
Lihle Z. Mtshali and Nomfundo Xulu
Casual workers account for almost a million jobs in South Africa, according to figures from the Labour Department, and trade unions are disturbed by the seemingly growing trend to use casual labour rather than employ someone on a permanent basis.
"We're extremely concerned at the expansion of casual labour as a proportion of the total workforce because in the vast majority of cases, casual workers have lower pay, less security and less protection under the labour laws," said Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) spokesperson Patrick Craven.
Mike Schussler, an economist at T-Sec, said companies usually took on casual workers due to flexibility, especially wheN the company does not have many workers but needs extra hands.
Private households, the wholesale and retail trade, and the construction industry use casual labour the most.
Most casual workers sign employment contracts with employment agencies and not the company they will be working for, which Cosatu believes blurs the responsibility about who is the employer and who is liable for handling workers' issues.
This has been the case at Compact Disc Technologies (CDT) where a group of casual employees have been unable to get answers about their problems from either the company they work for, or the agency that hired them.
"We are treated like we are not humans," said a source who wanted to remain anonymous.
CDT manufacturing manager Jamal Farah said the workers had been sourced through a recruiting agency, Capital Outsourcing Group, and it was therefore not CDT's responsibility.
The casuals allege that some of them have been working at CDT on a casual basis for more than 10 years.
"Usually, when a person works for more than three consecutive days on a regular basis [weekly], they can no longer be considered a casual - they should be classified as permanent," said Lavery Modise, a director at the commercial law firm Routledge Modise.