Imatu loses contempt of court case against Tshwane for unpaid salaries

Tshwane's streets were a mess due to the municipal workers' strike. File photo.
Tshwane's streets were a mess due to the municipal workers' strike. File photo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

The City of Tshwane has been vindicated by the labour court for failing to pay workers affiliated with the Independent Municipal & Allied Trade Union (Imatu).

The labour union had applied for a contempt of court order against two senior managers in the group human capital management department, including the city manager, for not paying August salaries to its members.

Tshwane spokesperson Selby Bokaba said the salaries of the members were recalled after the city realised that the affected staff members were not executing their duties.

“The union also wanted the city to reverse and pay its members’ salaries for the month of August 2023. Furthermore, they argued that the dismissal of their members was unfair, where they held dual membership with another trade union, the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), whose members were dismissed for participating in the unlawful and unprotected strike, which began in July.”

Since the strike, Bokaba said the city had dismissed 123 staff.

Imatu Tshwane manager Lynette Burns-Coetzee told TimesLIVE the city had withheld the salaries of 189 of its members which were supposed to have been paid on August 26.

After approaching the labour court with an urgent application, Burns-Coetzee said the court ordered on August 31 that the outstanding salaries be paid immediately or by September 1 at the latest. 

Another application was brought for contempt of court on September 11 as the city apparently only paid a small group of the Imatu members.

“By September 15, which is two weeks after the court order, they only paid 170 of our 189 members. We still feel we are successful and secured the 170 payments out of the 189. But there is unfair dismissal of 19 of our members who were fired for participating in the strike when they didn’t. One of them was even on maternity leave during the strike, but was also dismissed. That is an unfair dismissal case which we are going to fight.”

She added the union lost the court bid because it could not prove the municipality intended not paying the affected union members.

While they did not win the court case on Friday, Burns-Coetzee said they felt victorious for ensuring the majority of the members were eventually paid.

“Unfortunately Tshwane is making it political and it’s people’s lives at stake. Imagine not receiving your salary and not being able to put food on the table for your children or not being able to take them to school. Tshwane is in the media every second day about how victorious they are, but behind the scenes they followed a flawed process in dismissing people.”


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