SAMWU welcomes the reinstatement of 500 workers at the Steve Tshwete Local Municipality.
18 November 2021
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) in Mpumalanga Province welcomes the reinstatement of the 500 workers who were abruptly dismissed by the Steve Tshwete Local Municipality. The over 500 workers were dismissed by the municipality on the 12th November 2021 following the protracted dispute that workers had raised that their salaries should be adjusted in line with the upgrade of the municipality in 2017 from a category 4 to a category 6.
Following the termination of their contract of employment, the SAMWU along with the SACP, COSATU, the municipality, and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) in the province held a marathon of meetings to salvage the situation with the aim of ensuring that service delivery to the residents of Steve Tshwete is not compromised and that the workers are returned to work.
These meetings resulted in a settlement agreement being reached between SAMWU, Steve Tshwete Local Municipality, and COGTA. As per the settlement agreement, all workers will be reinstated as of the 18th November 2021. More importantly, parties have agreed that a process of salary adjustment will be undertaken to resolve the dispute. We are pleased in the manner in which parties engaged in resolving the dispute by putting the interests of community members and those of workers first.
We however express our dissatisfaction with the non-availability of the political leadership of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) in this municipality and other municipalities where there is instability. Legally, SALGA is supposed to provide support and advice to municipalities especially in the time of need as we have seen in the Steve Tshwete Local Municipality for the last 4 years.
As SAMWU, we are of the view that this impasse would have long been resolved had the municipality engaged workers when the issue of the municipality’s grading was first raised by workers. We would not be where we are today had the institution shown interest in addressing the issues that were raised by workers, instead, the municipality elected to suppress the dispute resulting in industrial action.
As the municipality prepares to inaugurate its 6th administration, we call on the new Councillors to ensure that there are sound labour relations in the municipality by always listening to workers and their grievances. By so doing, the new Council will create an environment where workers are motivated, resulting in increased productivity in the interest of service delivery.
We further urge the new Council to play their role in conducting proper support and oversight role on the administrative arm of the institution as they are constitutionally required to do so. The first priority for the Council should be the implementation of the settlement agreement, stabilising the institution, and improving the quality of services that residents receive.
Our members at the Steve Tshwete Local Municipality have demonstrated that indeed the power is in their hands as workers. We, therefore, thank them for their resilience and dedication to the cause of ensuring that their demands are attended to and met by the employer. This serves as an example of the strength of workers when they are united.
Lastly, we acknowledge the continued support from the Office of the Premier, the COGTA MEC, our federation COSATU, and the vanguard of the working class, the SACP. None of this would have happened without the various roles that they played. We furthermore thank community members who have supported the workers throughout the dispute. Ours is now to return to work and ensure that community members continue receiving the much-needed basic services.
Issued by SAMWU Mpumalanga Province
Sam Lekhuleni | Provincial Secretary | 072 834 3069
Hluphekile Madonsela | Deputy Provincial Secretary | 072 082 3627