The Constitutional court ruled on Thursday that the law must be interpreted within the context of the right to fair labour practices.
This means that metalworkers’ union Numsa has won its battle against labour brokers in the court. The ruling means that workers placed by labour brokers automatically become permanent employees after three months in a sole employment relationship.
Labour brokers have failed to convince the court of their argument that the employee would hold a dual employment relationship with both the brokerage and the company where the worker had been placed.
SA Federation of Trade Unions’ Zwelinzima Vavi says it is now over for labour brokers, hailing the ruling as the biggest victory for workers in recent times.
Unions have accused labour brokers of exploiting workers, which they say have no job security, are paid less than permanent workers and often have no protection against unfair dismissal.
The case was heard in the Constitutional Court after unions and labour brokers differed over how to interpret a new provision in the law on who between labour brokers and client companies is effectively the employer of temporary workers who have been contracted for more than three months.
The ruling is a vindication of Numsa’s rejection of brokers’ assertion that both the brokering firm and the client company effectively employ the temporary worker after the three month period has lapsed.