22 June 2023
SAMWU starts preparation for strike action following Court ruling against George Municipality
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) in the Western Cape notes and welcomes the Court judgement delivered by the Labour Court on the 19th June against the George Local Municipality. On 23 May 2023, the Municipal Manager, Dr Michel Gratz hastily rushed to the Labour Court to frivolously lodge an urgent court application to interdict the Union’s protected strike action.
As a law abiding organisation, the Union suspended its strike action to allow the Courts to deal with the matter. We have always maintained that this application was vexatious and an attempt by the Municipal Manager to strip workers of their Constitutional right to embark on protected strike action. Of great concern, this was the second time that the Municipal Manager dismally failed to interdict workers from exercising their rights.
We are pleased to report that the justice system has once again vindicated workers and restored their dignity by discharging the application lodged by Dr Gratz. Importantly, the rule nisi that was awarded to the municipality was not made an order of the Court. This gives the Union an opportunity to exercise its constitutional right to go on a protected strike. The Courts have once again confirmed the rights of workers to go to the streets, a right that is a product of the blood and sweat of our forebears.
We have on numerous occasions lamented the fact that the Municipal Manager is abusing municipal resources, using them as a war chest against workers. Her vexatious attack against workers has once again been exposed, an unwarranted attack that has resulted in fruitless and wasteful expenditure for the municipality. This is money that the municipality could have been used to service George residents.
SAMWU therefore demands that the George Local Municipality Council holds Dr Gratz personally liable for the wasted resources. The fact the waste of municipal resources has been happening over a long period should be concerning to all Councillors at the municipality. The failure by Council to personally hold Dr Gratz personally liable as the accounting officer will translate to the Council being complicit and enablers of the continued wasteful expenditure by the municipality. We further demand disclosure of the full amount that has been wasted by Dr Gratz in her quest to silence the Union and victimise workers through frivolous and vexatious legal processes.
We once more call on the residents of the George Local Municipality to join us in demanding an end to the abuse of municipal resources. Residents should be concerned that resources that should be used in servicing them are being redirected to attack and remove people of colour from the municipality. As community members, we want to see the municipality fulfilling its core mandate which is delivery of services and not the racial cleansing that is currently happening at the municipality.
As we prepare for our strike action which will be communicated soon, we implore community members to reject the wasteful expenditure and the agenda to systematically remove people of colour from the municipality. Residents should also reject the victimisation of their fellow community members by municipal administration led by Dr Gratz.
We lastly thank our members for their patience and allowing the legal processes to be exhausted. As we have previously said, this attempt by Dr Gratz presented workers with an opportunity to better prepare for the looking strike action. The municipality has shown workers the middle finger and refused to conclude matters in the boardroom.
We will therefore, as workers conclude these discussion on the streets since boardroom discussions have failed. The Union will is now embarking on a massive mobilization drive to take to the streets and paint the streets of George red with our sneakers on. The Union will be communicating details of the strike action soon.
A luta continua!
Issued by SAMWU Western Cape
073 644 9580 / 064 628 0000
061 593 9016