30 September 2021
SAMWU post CEC Statement
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) held a successful ordinary Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting from the 27th to the 29th September 2021 in Johannesburg to take stock on the progress made in implementing resolutions of the 12th National Congress, dealing with organisational issues including the filling of the vacancy of General Secretary.
On Local Government Elections
The CEC was addressed by alliance structures, the ANC, represented by the Head of Presidency, Sibongile Besani, the SACP represented by the 1st Deputy General Secretary, Solly Mapaila and COSATU represented by President Zingiswa Losi.
The CEC noted that the country will be holding the Local Government elections on the 1st of November this year and reflected on the Congress resolution with regards to the union’s position towards the elections including the resolution of our federation COSATU on the same. While the CEC was in session, the ANC launched its election manifesto in Pretoria. The CEC congratulates the ANC on presenting a well crafted plan for the country’s municipalities.
In as much as SAMWU as an affiliate of COSATU and informed by the CEC resolutions of COSATU will support the ANC in these elections, we still need the ANC to address issues that are of great concern to our members, and communities. These includes the unlawful dismissal of workers, the failure to pay workers their salaries in time or in full and the general collapse in municipalities.
Before we are municipal workers, we are community members and as such, we too want to benefit from the delivery of services. It is for this reason that the CEC is deeply concerned by the number of municipalities which are struggling to deliver on their constitutional mandate of the delivery of services to residents. We therefore want immediate intervention in these municipalities with the aim of arresting the root causes of the systematic collapse in these institutions.
We note that the country and the world are still battling with the Covid-19 pandemic, this has resulted in millions of deaths globally while in South Africa, almost 3 million cases have been recorded and over 87 000 South Africans losing their lives. We send our condolences to the families of those who have lost their loved ones and further wish speedy recovery to those currently battling the virus.
We applaud and appreciate the great work that has been done by government in rolling out the vaccination programme throughout the country. This massive programme has seen over 16 million vaccines being administered while over 8 million South Africans are now fully vaccinated against the virus.
We should however lament the fact that when the roll out programme began, municipal workers were not mentioned anywhere, but these same workers were declared essential workers during the lockdowns.
It can’t be correct that this sector is only considered an essential service by convenience. The local government sector is an essential sector and as such was supposed to have been prioritised when the roll out began.
The vaccine has been proven to reduce the risk of hospitalisation and even death if one contracts the virus. We therefore encourage municipal workers to get vaccinated in their numbers. As much as this programme should be purely on a voluntary basis. We should however as a trade union play a role in demystifying the myths around the virus and the vaccines, government should also play a major role in ensuring that it develops a communications plan that is targeted at vaccine hesitancy and the false information that is spread around.
On collective bargaining.
The CEC received a report on the recently concluded salary and wage collective agreements in both the Amanzi Bargaining Council (ABC) and the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC). The CEC noted and welcomed the reports on both agreements.
These negotiations were characterised by an attack on collective bargaining captained by the National Treasury wherein municipalities were advised to budget a zero % salary increase for the country’s municipal workers, an advise which many municipalities including City of Tswane and City of Cape Town took into consideration when in presenting their budgets for this financial year.
The South African Local Government Association as the employer body in the local government sector also took advice from the National Treasury’s advise of cost curtailment by wanting to introduce a freeze in notches and benefits in all the years of the agreement, including an offer of CPI less than average CPI in the 2nd and 3rd year of the agreement.
The CEC further noted and welcomed the fact that these negotiations have paved way for the implementation of the SAMWU 11th National Congress resolution on the absorption of EPWP workers in municipalities. Parties in the SALGBC have agreed on an investigation into the employability of EPWP and CWP workers by municipalities.
As the CEC, we have noted that some municipalities have already made known their intentions to apply to be exempted from the recently concluded SALGBC agreement. The DA-led City of Cape Town has already written to workers informing them that they will not be getting their salary increases in the month of October as per the salary and wage agreement.
We cannot let the gains that we have won for workers be reversed, these are workers who have throughout the pandemic ensured that they continually deliver services to residents without fail. These are workers who have lost colleagues that contracted the virus in the workplace as a result of the employers’ failure to adhere to the Department of Labour Regulations and the Disaster Management Act.
We therefore cannot allow municipal workers to forego their salary increases by municipalities that seek to use the pandemic as a scapegoat. Any municipality that applies for exemption would have declared war with workers.
As SAMWU, we expect all 257 municipalities and their entities to pay workers their increases along with their salaries in the month of October. The attempts that we are seeing from these municipalities are a direct attack on collective bargaining and workers’ rights. We will not fold our arms and allow the onslaught on collective bargaining.
The union will remain vigilant and jealously guard collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is a product of the blood and sweat of our forebears, they would never rest in peace if allow this onslaught to continue un challenged.
The CEC appreciated the work that has been done by the SAMWU National Office Bearers and those of COSATU in ensuring that the union is returned to its good standing status as per the resolution of the 12th National Congress. We therefore encourage all our members to go and actively participate in all activities of COSATU including the local elections that are currently ongoing.
A vacancy within Secretariat was created by the passing away of the union’s former General Secretary, Comrade Koena Ramotlou earlier this year. The CEC unanimously agreed to elect the Deputy General Secretary, Comrade Dumisane Magagula to the position of the General Secretary.
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat
076 580 4029
National Media Officer
073 710 0356