13 October 2023
SAMWU Response to Allegations of Violence by Tshwane Mayor
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) expresses deep concern regarding a recent statement made by City of Tshwane Mayor, Cllr Cilliers Brink, during a press briefing held on 12 October 2023. Cllr Brink levelled serious accusations, suggesting that the Union has resorted to violence in our fight for the full implementation of 3.5% and 5.4% salary increases for the years 2021 and 2022, respectively. We wish to emphasize that we have previously faced unfounded accusations from the Mayor, only to be vindicated by the courts and the City itself.
Mayor Brink has alleged that “a top Union leader was dismissed for their involvement in the torching of a municipal truck on 29 August.” This has led to a flurry of media inquiries directed to the Union. We categorically state that among the various charges and unwarranted dismissals issued to our members and municipal workers in Tshwane, none are related to the destruction or vandalism of municipal property. Furthermore, SAMWU, as a Union, has not received any communication from the City in accordance with Schedule 8 (4) (2) of the Labour Relations Act, which stipulates that “disciplinary action against a trade union representative or an employee who holds a trade union office should not be initiated without first informing and consulting the trade union.”
We believe that the Mayor’s recent attacks on the Union are driven by a desire to tarnish our image, undermine our reputation, portray our members and municipal workers as violent, while undermining collective bargaining. We take these allegations seriously, as they have profound implications for workers. Due to the Mayor’s reckless behaviour, community members may unjustly target municipal workers, due to the false narration that workers are involved in acts of sabotage and violence and have crippled service delivery.
We reiterate that the Union, its members, and leaders have no interest in damaging infrastructure owned by their employer. Our members take pride in serving their communities and recognize that municipal property is vital for providing quality services to residents. We have warned the City on previous occasions that the mismanagement of this situation will be exploited by opportunities for criminals.
We are particularly concerned about the timing of this “revelation” by the Mayor. Cllr Brink has acknowledged possessing the evidence he claims to have had since August, yet this evidence is only now made public after the City has embarked on a campaign to deny workers their 13th cheque slated for payment in November. This decision is illegal and amounts to a unilateral change in our members’ conditions of employment. The Mayor seems eager to distract us from challenging this unlawful act and our fight for salary increases.
Recognizing that municipal infrastructure is essential for delivering services, the Union has consistently advocated against the use of violence to resolve the impasse in Tshwane. SAMWU will not tolerate any form of violence against municipal infrastructure or attacks on workers. We want to make it clear that no one should misuse the Union’s name to commit acts of misconduct, as such behaviour will not be tolerated.
In the spirit of transparency and accountability, the Union will fully cooperate with law enforcement authorities. If any of our members are found to have used the Union’s name in committing violence, the Union’s disciplinary processes will be applied.
We remain committed to fighting for the full implementation of the salary and wage collective agreement by the City of Tshwane. We have always been open to engaging with the City on the details of paying workers their 3.5% and 5.4% increases. Therefore, we urge the City to collaborate with the Section 150 intervention initiated by the CCMA. The challenges in Tshwane cannot be resolved through arrogance, political manoeuvring, political opportunism, finger-pointing, or violence. Instead, they require respectful and meaningful discussions, which the City has regrettably neglected. In the interest of normalcy, stability, and service delivery, we call on the City to return to the negotiation table. The current situation demands that the City and Unions engage in constructive dialogue, rather than talking past each other.
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat:
(076 580 4029)
Deputy General Secretary
(082 526 5224)
National Media Officer
(073 710 0356)