27 March 2023
SAMWU calls for George Municipal Manager to be held personally liable for fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) in the Western Cape province is calling on all political parties represented at the George Local Municipality to act swiftly within the prescripts of municipal legislation to hold the Municipal Manager, Dr Michel Gratz, personally liable for the fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred by the municipality in seeking to purge workers and union bashing.
We have always known Dr Gratz as a vindictive individual who hates workers from her previous tenure at the Mossel Bay and Knysna Local Municipalities, having have wasted hundreds of thousands of municipal resources to remove workers who she disagreed with from the municipal payroll and subjecting these workers to hunger and starvation. All employees who were dismissed at the instruction of Dr Gratz have suffered unbearable pain of living without a salary for many months, while some have had their movable and immovable properties repossessed due to non-payment, only for them to be reinstated through the intervention of the union.
Dr Gratz, an unrepented racist, has in the last two years surgically removed five Directors of colour from the George Municipality in a racial cleansing that seeks to ensure that the municipal administration is turned into a white supremacy “Boeremag” regime. SAMWU had on numerous occasions argued that Dr Gratz is bad news for the administration of the George Municipality. She has always acted in bad faith on issues driven and raised by SAMWU and is living in a world of denial. She is running the George Municipality as if it is her personal farm.
In the recent cases, Dr Gratz has instructed the municipality to waste the much needed resources in sourcing legal opinions on the review of two cases that the union recently won against the municipality in the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC). We are aware that there are legal avenues afforded to municipalities to review matters, it however cannot be correct that every time a union wins a case against the municipality, money is wasted in seeking to review those matters.
The obsession by Dr Gratz to review all cases lost in the SALGBC has cost the municipality a lot of money which was paid to lawyers and workers who were reinstated after unsuccessful review applications by the municipality. A lot of money was wasted in paying for substitute workers as the incumbents were sent home by Dr Gratz. To us, it is clear that Dr Gratz sees the municipality outside the auspices of the SALGBC. We will not allow a situation wherein a vindictive individual like Dr Gratz undermines collective bargaining and the Bargaining Council itself.
It is for this reason that as SAMWU, we call on all political parties represented in the George Local Municipality to act against the Municipal Manager who has fruitlessly and wastefully spent municipal resources to purge workers. As the accounting officer of the municipality, Dr Gratz should know better, she should be using every last cent of the municipality to ensure that residents receive service delivery and not use this money to chase after workers.
As a union, we are fed-up with Dr Gratz and her iron-fist governance at the municipality. She has now embarked on a vengeful exercise that seeks to eliminate shopstewards who are exposing her racist behaviour and the fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the municipality. Under the turner of Dr Gratz, relations between labour and the administration have become non-existent, the staff morale is so low that many workers have decided to resign rather than work under the supervision of Dr Gratz.
SAMWU strongly believes that the vindictive and wrongful purging of workers and union leaders is driven by an agenda of malicious intent. These frivolous and vexatious disciplinary matters and unfair labour practices brought against workers and shopstewards is a serious attempt to collapse service delivery for the community at large. These are ratepayers’ funds that could have been used to better the lives of the municipality’s residents. Instead, municipal resources are being used to turn the George Municipality into a safe haven for white supremacists.
SAMWU is calling for an immediate investigation by Council on all the legal opinions that were obtained at the instruction of Dr Gratz. We need clarity on which legal firms were appointed to give opinions in all labour related matters taken on review. The investigation will determine whether such processes were sanctioned or approved by Council. As SAMWU believes they have a huge financial implications for the municipality and importantly, have been bias and used selectively to get rid of people of colour.
As a union, we will not allow the current attacks and purging of people of colour to continue at the municipality. It is very clear that the Municipal Manager is protecting her white cronies who have made it their task to turn the municipal administration to a lily white institution. Any democratic, non-racist and peace loving political party will not tolerate the behaviour and actions of Dr Gratz, if indeed any political party in Council embraces the South African democratic dispensation, they will swiftly act against Dr Gratz.
We are however not amused by the inaction of the Council against Dr Gratz, they have been complicit in her actions, including failing to pay workers their Covid-19 compensation, ignored the calls by workers to be provided with proper PPE to enable them to safely execute their duties and the exploitation of EPWP employees who have been on the municipal payroll for over 15 years without job security, benefits or prospects of being permanently employed by the municipality.
As a union, we commits to report these cases to the Public Protecter and Auditor General, including opening criminal cases against the arrogant, racist and vindictive Dr Gratz, if the George Council fails to act against the Boeremag ring leader. We further demand a forensic investigation into all appointments of management and senior management positions made from her appointment as Acting Municipal Manager, as we believe some managers, senior managers, deputy directors and directors did not meet the minimum requirements required for posts. We are of the firm view that the Council, as legally empowered, should suspend Dr Gratz to enable an investigation that is free, fair and would not be influenced by the presence of Dr Gratz at the municipality.
We are as a union preparing our members and workers in general for a strike action at the municipality over issues of racism, unfair labour practices and the fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred in dealing with workers and silencing the union. As community members, we want to see a municipality that is focused on service delivery, a municipality whose focus is not derailed by the vengeful and vexatious behaviour of a racist Municipal Manager.
Issued by SAMWU Western Cape
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