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Shopsteward Volume 26 No. 2

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  |  Affiliates Press Statements

SAMWU Post February NEC Statement

9 February 2018

The South African Municipal Workers' Union (SAMWU) held an ordinary National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting which was proceeded by a Financial Committee meeting from the 7th to the 9th February at the Royal Hotel in Polokwane. Both these meetings were held while we are at advanced stages of the salary and wage negotiations for our members throughout the country in the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC).

The NEC happens a few days after two Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) officers lost their lives while on duty in the North of Johannesburg. During the NEC we also learnt of an unfortunate incident wherein a Tshwane Metro Police Department officer was brutally and barbarically shot and killed during a robbery. The NEC extends its heartfelt condolences to families and colleagues of these officers. We will therefore be intensifying our demand that a risk cover and danger allowance be extended to all workers who are exposed to such risks.

On Political

The NEC congratulates the African National Congress for having held a successful 54th National Congress this past December. We once again congratulate the leadership collective as led by Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa who was the preferred candidate for labour. This signifies a new era for Africa's oldest liberation movement.

We are hopeful and optimistic of the direction which the ANC government is heading following the 54th ANC congress, particularly the decision to institute a commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture.

We are further hopeful that the new ANC leadership collective will ensure the speedily implementation of the National Health Insurance which is long overdue. We trust that workers who have for long been overlooked and marginalized will be prioritized. We look forward to engagements with the new administration on issues facing our members particularly on scrapping the privatization of municipal services through the tendering system and the use of Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) and Community Works Programmes (CWP).

These programmes are exploitative in nature and have become a provider of cheap labour for all spheres of government. We are of the firm view that participants of these programmes should be employed permanently and directly by municipalities with job security and benefits which are extended to municipal workers.

The outcome and decisions which have already been taken are making it easier for organized labour to campaign for the ANC to ensure a resounding victory in the 2019 General Elections. The time is now for the ANC to renew and instill confidence in the people of South Africa. We therefore look forward to campaigning for the ANC as guided by our 2015 Congress Resolutions.

We welcome the swift action by the Hawks in raiding the offices of the Free State Agriculture MEC and the Office of the Premier in relation to the Vrede Farm. The R200 million which was swindled out of poor Free State communities should be recovered and those who defrauded the state should face the full might of the law.

The NEC is convinced that for the ANC to instill confidence that it still is a leader of society, President Jacob Zuma should vacate his office immediately as a deployee of the ANC without attaching any conditions. This would not only allow the ANC to cleanse itself but also avoid a situation of two centers of power.

We therefore welcome the decision by Parliament to postpone the State of the Nation Address to allow the ANC to deal decisively with the issue of President Zuma. We believe that President Zuma should not be the one delivering the State of the Nation Address and that he should have vacated office before the SONA is presented.

We are concerned by the divisive tone of the Secretary General of the ANC who seemingly wants President Zuma to continue holding on to power by all means necessary. The SG is not doing any justice to the organization with his utterances, particularly those he made in Pietermaritzburg recently when he said the ANC will be returned in 5 years, where is the ANC now if it has to be returned?

The NEC further notes and cautiously welcomes the appointment of the new Board of Eskom including its interim CEO and Chairperson. We believe that this is a step in the right direction in ensuring stability of Eskom and other SOEs. We therefore urge the leader of Government Business that the stabilizing of SOEs should not come at the expense of workers as we have seen when Mabuza was tasked with stabilizing Telkom.

On the State of the Union

The union celebrated its 30th Anniversary in this city last year December wherein members from across the country gathered to celebrate this milestone. Contrary to what prophets of doom had prophesied, the NEC received an encouraging membership report on the state of the organsation.

Since the 2015 11th National Congress, the union has recorded a 14.27% increase in membership which now stands at 155 035 members. The increase in membership is a vote of confidence by municipal workers that SAMWU remains their union of choice. This has been made possible by the selfless service by our officials who continue to recruit and service our members.

Our main task is now to ensure that we retain, service and recruit more members to our fold. In ensuring that we keep up in servicing our members, the union will be rolling out Shopstewad training from in early March this year.

In the quest to ensure that we capacitate and empower our members, last year the union launched the SAMWU College, a fully fledged Workers' College which is housed at the union's Head Offices in Johannesburg .

SAMWU College is fully accredited to provide qualifying learners with a National Diploma in Labour Law, Human Resource Management, Dispute Resolution and Recognition of Prior Learning. The SAMWU College if open free of charge for SAMWU members.

In further capacitating our members and in order to address specific soft skill training in the workplace and increase the accessibility of training in at work, SAMWU recently Launched it's our own online training portal called SAMWU Online Academy.

The Online Academy is an e-learning and training resource portal which offers soft skill and practical based training through various methods of rapid e-learning to help reach individual, and organisational goals by focusing on various aspects such as fundamental workplace skills, management skills, human resource skills and computer skills. The following courses will be offered;

  • Communication Skills
  • Computer and Technical Literacy
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • A Professional Approach
  • Project Management Skills
  • Problem-solving Skills
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Leadership Skills
  • Decision Making Skills
  • People Skills

On the State of Municipalities

The NEC notes and welcomes the decision by the City of Johannesburg to absorb 4000 security workers. Currently the City is paying 150 security companies over R14 000 per security guard yet these workers receive far less than R5000 per month. This revelation is proof that privatization does not either enhance service delivery or benefit workers.

We therefore call on all municipalities to emulate what the City of Johannesburg has done to ensure all security contracts are terminated and absorb all security workers. This will not only save money but will ensure that workers are well remunerated with job security.

The NEC is gravely concerned by the state in which municipalities find themselves in. Most municipalities have made it fashionable to pay workers salaries late while some municipalities have not been paying third parties such as union subscriptions, pension funds, medical aids and funeral policies.

The late payment of salaries and non-payment of third parties has had serious consequences for our members throughout the country. The biggest culprits of this hideous practice are municipalities based in Free State. The NEC has therefore mandated the union's legal department to lay criminal and fraud charges against municipalities which have failed to pay third parties.

The NEC further received a report that during its seating, an arbitration was held between the union and the City of Johannesburg at the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) Gauteng Division in relation to the City's decision to withhold subscription. We are confident that the SALGBC will rule in the favour of the union.

On Negotiations with SALGA
Salary and Wage negotiations with the employer body are at advanced stages. SAMWU last year submitted joined trade union demands for salaries and wages for our members. Already two rounds of negotiations have been held. Trade unions had demanded;

1. A single year agreement
2. An across the board 15% salary increase or R3155
3. R2000 housing allowance for all employees
4. R10 000 sectoral minimum wage
5. All benefits and conditions of service linked to salaries to increase the across the board salary increase

In the first round of negotiations, the employer responded by submitting the following counter proposal.

1. A 5 year collective agreement
2. 4.6% in the first year collective agreement and CPI plus 0.25% for the remainder of the collective agreement.
3. Housing allowance to increase in line with the 5 year collective agreement.
4. Minimum wage t increase in line with the 5 year collective agreement.
5. A proposal that all benefits linked to salaries and wages be linked to the collective agreement.

SAMWU rejected the employer proposal which led to a second round of negotiations held in first week of February. We believe that the demands which we have put through for our members are reasonable particularly going given the fact that municipal workers are the least paid government employees.

In the second round of negotiations, the Disciplinary Procedure Collective Agreement was signed. This follows the nullifying of the previous Collective Agreement by the Labour Court. The nullification resulted in municipalities dealing with issues of disciplinary in a manner which prejudiced workers.

The NEC received a report of the conclusion of the Disciplinary Procedure Collective Agreement which would protect the interests of our members. Under the new collective agreement, employers would no longer be allowed to use lawyers in disciplinary cases. The collective agreement further states that disciplinary action should be concluded within three months. This is a step ensuring that workers are treated fairly and ensure that workers are not on suspensions for long periods while waiting for disciplinary action to be taken as we have seen in the City of Johannesburg.

We are now preparing for the third round of negotiations which will be held in the first week of March. The NEC tasked the negotiating team to go full steam ahead in ensuring that our members get increases which they deserve.

We will therefore not be entertaining a multiyear agreement which does not have any substantial increments for our members. The argument put forward by SALGA that they are encouraging home ownership is therefore nonsensical. If indeed they were encouraging home ownership, workers would not be receiving a mere R750 while on the other hand municipal councilors are receiving R6500. It is for this reason that we will not be backtracking on our demand that the housing allowance be extended to all municipal employee.

Issued by SAMWU Secretariat

Simon Mathe, General Secretary (079 887 8389), Moses Miya, Deputy General Secretary (082 899 2169), Papikie Mohale, National Media Officer (073 710 0356)

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