15 August 2023


The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) has noted with great concern a clip from a speech made by the Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen at the party’s Gauteng Provincial Conference over the weekend. In the video clip, Steenhuisen can be heard telling delegates to the Conference that “if you can’t tell SAMWU there is no money for salary increases, then you will have nothing to inherit. You will simply be [inaudible] to repeating the mistakes of the ANC, and that we cannot afford.”

SAMWU considers the remarks by Steenhuisen as a direct attack to collective bargaining which was not given on a silver platter to workers. Collective bargaining is the product of the blood and sweat of many workers who came before us, such as the Union’s founding President Cde Petrus Mashishi. Leaders such as Mashishi fought for centralisation of salary and wage negotiations with the aim of improving municipal workers’ conditions throughout the country.

Steenhuisen’s comments were made during a time when relations between SAMWU and the City of Tshwane are eroded and at an all-time low as a result of the City refusing to pay workers their 3.5% and 5.4% salary increases for the years 2021 and 2023 respectively. Municipal workers in Tshwane have, as a result of the non-implementation of the collective agreement failed to catch up with the rising cost of living.

As SAMWU, we consider the remarks by Steenhuisen to be a political instruction to municipalities governed by the DA and its coalition partners; to deny workers their salary and wage increases. This political instruction further encourages DA-led municipalities to undermine collective agreements which have been concluded in the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC). Importantly, this political instruction is more directed towards the City of Tshwane, given the current stalemate between workers and the City.

The attitude by the DA and Steenhuisen are not new as we have always known the DA to be a political party that is anti-workers and anti-black. To actively encourage municipalities to deny workers salary increases which are legally and contractually binding is however a new low for the DA in their quest to reverse the gains that have been made for, and by workers.

It is for this reason that as SAMWU, we are convinced that the DA has now declared itself as an enemy of progress and municipal workers. In essence, the DA is telling municipal workers that they do not deserve to receive salary increases. This, despite the hard work performed daily by municipal workers in ensuring the continuity of service delivery throughout all municipalities.

The reasons being given by the DA and the City of Tshwane that workers should not receive their salary increases because there is no money is not factual, but rather a lie that the DA continues to spread with the hope of gaining public sympathy. These lies are told with the deliberate and malicious intention of covering the true agenda of the party; to strip workers of their dignity and subjecting them to slave wages.

As reported by the Auditor General in the municipal audit outcomes, the DA-led City of Tshwane incurred over R10 billion in fruitless and wasteful expenditure. To us, this is an indication that the City does have the money to cover the salary and wage increases for 2021 and 2023. They however would prefer to use this money in a fruitless and wasteful manner, instead of improving the lives of municipal workers. Workers cannot be punished for the management failures of the DA-led government which spent billions in fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

We have noted that City has finally applied to be exempted from implementing the provisions of the SALGBC salary and wage collective agreement for the 2023/24 financial year. As SAMWU, we consider this exercise by the City to be a tick box exercise as they have already exempted themselves by denying workers their salary increases which were supposed to be paid in July this year.

We will, as a Union be opposing this frivolous and vexatious application by the City in the SALGBC later this month. The City does have the necessary funds required to fund the 3.5% and 5.4% salary and wage increases which are due to municipal workers. We know that the decision to deny workers their salary increases is motivated by the anti-worker attitude of the DA.

As workers of the City of Tshwane, we know who our enemies are. Who know who the enemies of progress and economic liberation of municipal workers are. We will therefore not fold our arms and allow the DA and the City of Tshwane to undermine, trample over collective bargaining and reverse the gains of workers. It is for this reason that the Union will continue to use all avenues at its disposal to ensure that the City of Tshwane complies with the SALGBC salary and wage collective agreement. The Union will not rest until workers are paid their 3.5% and 5.4% salary and wage increases.

Issued by SAMWU Gauteng

Mpho Tladinyane
Provincial Secretary
(083 941 5888)


Precious Theledi
Tshwane Regional Secretary
(072 601 8876)