The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) in Limpopo province has learned with shock and utter dismay of the intention of the Sekhukhune District Municipality to gamble with the lives of employees in the aftermath of a confirmed COVID-19 case confirmed in the municipality ‘s Bareki Offices which is the Head Offices of the institution.
What is particularly concerning is that the municipality in its communication with the media on the 19th June 2020 confirmed that the district office will be closed from the 22nd June to 29th June 2020 in order to either put in place measures to mitigate, to deep clean and fumigate the surface areas and screen and test the employees. These are measures legislated by law and has been a norm that where a positive case is recorded, these measures will be followed to the letter.
The employer has now recklessly recalled workers to return to work without first consulting with organised labour and or putting any measures in place in accordance with OHSA,COVID 19 guidelines and their own workplace readiness plan which confirms our view that the employer is economic with the truth and recklessly putting lives of workers at risk.
When employees received a WhatsApp message to return to work on the 22 June 2020 we immediately contacted both Acting Director Cooperate Services and the Acting Municipal Manager who could not guarantee the safety of our members which left us with no choice but to advice our members to go home and come back to work on the 29th June 2020 as per the media alert that the municipality had issued on the 19th June 2020.
We have further requested an urgent special Local Labour Forum on the 24th June to deal with COVID-19 related issues and how best the municipality can, in the interest of workers and residents respond effectively.
SAMWU cautions the leadership of the municipality political and administrative leadership that their tendency of taking resolutions that have implications on labour without their involvement stops now and their rationale for recalling workers without properly following guidelines as well as OHSA is very risky and has a potential implication for institutional instability.
We will further be demanding that the municipality take long overdue corrective action against the Acting Municipal Manager for single handily confusing the institution by recalling workers though a WhatsApp message against an internal memorandum he himself approved as well media alert sanctioned by the Executive Mayor for closure of offices until 29th June 2020 since this can cause instability and public outrage which will expose the municipality to unnecessary litigation.
Samwu is ready and committed to defend its members from this callous act of municipality within the context of service delivery and labour peace in the interest of the working class.
Issued by SAMWU Limpopo
Provincial Secretary 076 785 9022