SAMWU scores huge victories for workers at the Sol Plaatje Local Municipality

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) has scored huge victories for workers at the Sol Plaatje Local Municipality in Kimberly, Northern Cape. Workers at the municipality decided to embark on a protest action following a variety of grievances which were not attended to by the municipality.

The union’s National, Provincial and local leadership visited the municipality and met with workers, the Executive Mayor, members of the Mayoral Committee and members of the executive management and the Municipal Manager.

Following these discussions, parties have therefore agreed as follows;   

On payment of 6.25% salary increase

In 2018, SAMWU signed a salary and wage collective agreement in the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC), this agreement would have seen municipal workers receiving a salary increase of 6.25% effective from July 2020.

Instead of paying workers the 6.25% salary increase on the 25th of July as per the agreement which the Sol Plaatje Local Municipality is party to, the municipality decided on the 27th July that it would be applying for exemption from the collective agreement, this besides the fact that the Municipal Council had approved the budget which factored in this increase for all workers.

Seemingly the municipality had listened to the advice of South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and National Treasury of not paying workers what contractually and legally belongs to them. This was the very same advice which had ulterior motives of collapsing collective bargaining in the local government sector.

We are pleased that these engagements have resulted in an agreement that would see workers, including contract workers receiving their 6.25% salary increase as of November 2020. The 4 months that would be in arrears would be paid in staggered phases. This is a victory for workers, SALGA should be ashamed of themselves for misleading municipalities into not paying workers their increases.

Absorption of contract workers and EPWP

The municipality has a lot of workers who are on contract, this despite the fact that legislation has been changed in favour of contract workers to be converted to permanent employment.  The municipality has also been continually using the Extended  Public Works Programme (EPWP) for the delivery of services.

Guided by our 11th Congress resolutions, SAMWU is, and will continue being against the use of EPWP in delivering services. We have resolved as a union that all EPWP workers should be absorbed and employed directly by municipalities.

Parties therefore agreed that a budget assessment and adjustment will be made to allow for the absorption of EPWP workers and contract workers. The modalities of this process will be referred to the LLF.

On Suspensions of shop stewards

On the 12th October 2020, the municipality issued shop stewards in its employ with intentions to suspend them following the work stoppage. In the interest of maintaining sound labour relations in the municipality, the employer has since agreed that all letters of intentions to suspend be withdrawn immediately.

On payment of allowance and overtime

Parties have agreed that payment of night shift allowance, overtime and long service bonuses be deferred to the LLF for full submission with details while the long service allowance will be dealt with administratively through the office of Director Corporate Services.

All outstanding overtime for the period November and December 2019 will be paid in full immediately. This shall include all overtime above the threshold that was officially authorised.

On no work, no pay

The municipality had sought to implement the no work, no pay principle for the duration of the work stoppage. As a result of the engagements, parties have agreed that this matter will be open to discussion on a case by case basis, including allowing workers to use  their leave days.  

On COVID allowance

Parties recognize that some employees were officially recalled by the employer during the lockdown that started on the 26th March 2020 and thus exposed to danger when working during the lockdown period.  All such employees ought to receive a danger/risk allowance. Parties agree that this item will be discussed at the LLF on the 27th October.

We thank our members for the patience and confidence in allowing the union to deal with this matter in their interest. We will also be following up on the matter of a ghost employee who is on the municipal payroll. As the matter is currently before law enforcement, we will be contacting the investigating officers to furnish them with more information and evidence that supports the existence of this ghost employee who is a child to one of the senior managers in the municipality.

We further take this opportunity to warn all municipalities that have not paid workers their 6.25% that they should pay it over immediately, or else….

Issued by SAMWU Secretariat

Koena Ramotlou, General Secretary (073 254 9394), Dumisane Magagula, Deputy General Secretary (084 806 4005) or Lawrence Fernie, Northern Cape Provincial Secretary (071 889 2023)