The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) has today through a meeting of the union’s Provincial Secretaries consolidated statistics of COVID-19 positive cases amongst municipal workers. It is with great sadness that we announce that at least 63 municipal workers have succumbed to the virus while a further 4571 have been confirmed as positive cases.
We firstly send our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the families, colleagues and friends of these workers. We further wish a speedy recovery to the thousands who remain active cases, we wish them strength to beat this virus.
We are greatly concerned that the number of positive cases are on a steady increase, with the most cases registered in Western Cape (3103), Gauteng (557) and Eastern Cape (486). The Eastern Cape province has recorded the highest number of deaths (27) followed by Western Cape (15) and Gauteng (11).
We have also noted that the greatest number of employees who have tested positive are from Community Safety (Metro Police and Fire and Ambulances), community health workers and those in solid waste departments. We, therefore, call on greater focus these groups of workers as we believe there is not much being done to protect them.
As the epicenter of the virus shifts to Gauteng Province, we are greatly concerned about the health and safety of municipal workers. SAMWU, therefore, demands greater compliance of COVID-19 regulations by all municipalities.
When the country moved to level 3, we raised concerns that municipalities were just not ready for the return of all workers as they had failed to guarantee their health and safety in the initial stages of the lockdown and under lockdown level 5 and 4. To this day, not all municipalities are compliant with the regulations, with some of them still not providing workers with the necessary PPE for the safe execution of their duties.
Union structures will, therefore, henceforth be involving the Department of Labour and Employment inspectors on their oversight visits to municipalities. The Department should ensure that all municipal offices that do not comply with the regulations and the Health and Safety Act are be closed down with immediately.
We also reiterate our call to municipal workers that where their health and safety cannot be guaranteed, municipal workers should simply refuse to work, they should not endanger their lives and that of their families and colleagues. Service delivery cannot continue at the expense of the lives of municipal workers.
The health and safety of workers remains the responsibility of employers, including municipalities. We are not going to negotiate municipal workers’ health safety, this is a matter of implementation. Dead municipal workers cannot deliver any services, dead residents cannot receive services.
As the country’s cases continue to increase exponentially, we call on South Africans and municipal workers to adhere and comply with COVID-19 regulations. The country is heading towards a dark period which requires action from all us. It is only through compliance that we can all protect ourselves loved ones.
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat
Koena Ramotlou, General Secretary (073 254 9394), Dumisane Magagula, Deputy General Secretary (084 806 4005) or Papikie Mohale, National Media Officer (073 710 0356)