25 October 2022
Anniversary Message to SAMWU
The Public Services International (PSI) would like to join its affiliate SAMWU in celebrating its 35th Anniversary.
Anniversaries are important because it is a time of reflection of the journey travelled thus far. It is a time not only to celebrate the growth, the achievements and the triumphs of an organization, but to draw lessons for the future from the mistakes and the pitfalls of the past.
SAMWU has operated and persisted during the challenging context of the COVID-19 pandemic in which many workers lost their lives as a result of the pandemic. The time of the pandemic was indeed one which called upon the unions to review the Occupational Safety and Health measures that were in place in order to secure safe working environments for their members.
SAMWU has persevered and continues to champion the interests of workers in the context of affrontery by the employers. We have seen how some municipalities, like the city of Tshwane metro in 2020, took the decision to renege on a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that it had signed with SAMWU, instead presenting a financial situation that it said was incapable of meeting the budgetary requirements to pay the agreed salary scales and the arrears. SAMWU stuck to its guns and took the metro head on over the matter.
The general context of austerity measures being implemented in the country does not make collective bargaining easy. With reduced public spending, it means local government authorities receive constrained budgets which leave very little room to manoeuvre for the employers’ negotiators. This means that there should also be serious engagements at the policy level.
SAMWU has been in the forefront in the fight for decent work as it has been repeatedly calling for the absorption and awarding of formal and proper work contracts to the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers.
This is a programme that has left workers providing vital public services working under precarious conditions.
We would also like to congratulate SAMWU for creating space within the union for Young Workers, as well as championing for their interests. It comes as no surprise therefore that the union is recording growth in its membership at a time when there are so many challenges to organizing.
As PSI, we are proud to share a history of struggles with SAMWU, dating back to the time we waged successful campaigns against water privatization, until today when we find ourselves being called upon to be even more united as we fight against the effects of global capitalism.
We would like to wish all the leadership and membership of SAMWU a Happy Anniversary and a future of growth, strength, unity and many more conquests.
Issued by Tichaona Fambisa
Sub-Regional Secretary for Southern Africa