25 March 2020
SAMWU Statement on National Lockdown
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) has noted the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that effective midnight of Thursday 26th March 2020, government will be implementing a 21-day lockdown which will see the closure of businesses and people being confined to their homes for this period.
Since the President’s announcement, we have received numerous calls from our members informing us that, they have been instructed by their Human Resources Departments that they should be applying for leave. We advise our members and municipal workers not to apply for annual leave, these are days that workers have accumulated and should not be taken away from them as a result of events which are not of their own making.
As per the regulations released by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, municipalities will continue delivering services to South Africans in line with the Essential Services agreement. The department has further urged municipalities to ensure that there are safety and health protocols in place in a bid to reduce spread of the virus and also to protect workers while on duty.
We therefore encourage our members and municipal workers to refuse to work if they are not provided with the required safety equipment, particularly those employees who will be in contact direct with people. In as much as we do not want to see an interruption in delivery of services, we cannot allow such deliveries to be done at the expense of workers’ lives or health and those of their families.
We have further noted the announcement by the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula that minibus taxis and bus services will only operate during certain times for the duration of the lockdown. This is the only public transportation that municipal workers will have access to, and as such some workers will not be able to reach their workplaces on time.
We therefore urge municipalities to ensure that municipal workers are provided with transport to and from work, failure to do so will result in workers not reporting for duty. Employers should also ensure that there is adequate security and health protocols in place in the transportation that would be dedicated to these workers.
The union will continue operating with the aim and intention of monitoring that health and safety protocols are put in place and followed to ensure that municipal workers are not exposed to the virus negligently and unnecessarily so.
We take this opportunity to wish all essential service workers who will be in the line of duty well in the execution of their duties, South Africans will forever remain indebted to their service in these difficult times.
We also send words of encouragement and well wishes to those who have been diagnosed with the virus. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, we have full confidence in the country’s health system and believe and as such wish them speedy recovery.
We further urge South Africans to strictly adhere to the regulations announced by government in combating this virus and to stay at home, wash their hands regularly with soap for 20 seconds. Working together as South Africans we can beat this virus.
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat
(073 254 9394)
Deputy General Secretary
(084 806 4005)
National Media Officer
(073 710 0356)