The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) has concluded and signed a unity agreement with the task team assigned by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) to facilitate talks between SAMWU and aggrieved members of the union. This process was initiated to assist and provide support in resolving the issues and challenges which had faced the union since 2015.
Under the agreement, all SAMWU members who were suspended or dismissed from 2015 are to be reinstated as members of the union with immediate effect. The reinstatement agreement does not mean that anyone who held a position of leadership in the union before their suspension or dismissal returns to that position, they will only be returning as members and will participate in the upcoming shop steward elections. The COSATU CEC task team will have oversight and verification of this reinstatement process.
The COSATU CEC task team will also have oversight and final verification in relation to the union’s staff members who were unfairly suspended or unfairly dismissed from 2015. Individuals who were subjected to an unfair process will have their suspension or dismissal reviewed in terms of SAMWU’s Staff Manual.
SAMWU is embarking on a process of rebuilding, renewal, and unity, as such and in line with the union’s recently held Special CEC, between June and August this year, SAMWU will be holding shop steward elections across the country to renew the mandate given by members at plant level. These elections will be held in adherence to the union’s constitution, in particular, clause 5.3 of the constitution.
At the time of reaching this agreement, shop steward elections had begun in two regions, Johannesburg, Gauteng and Pinky Ntshangase, Eastern Cape. SAMWU has appointed the Elexions Agency to vet the process and results thereof. A report on these elections will be submitted to the union for consideration, should a dispute be lodged, the union will, in consultation with the COSATU task team try to resolve the dispute in 5 days of receipt of such a dispute.
The elections of shop stewards will culminate in Regional Shop Steward Councils, Provincial Congresses, and the 12th SAMWU National Congress which will be held in March 2020. We believe that this process will return the trust that municipal workers have always had in SAMWU as their first line of defence.
Parties have therefore agreed that all parallel structures which existed before the signing of this agreement will be abolished and as such there shall be one SAMWU in all regions, provinces and at national level. Parties will also withdraw all litigations against each other which are pending or currently before the courts, the signed agreement will be made an order(s) of the court.
Parties have also agreed that municipalities which were withholding union subscriptions should immediately transfer that money to the union’s bank account. This money will be used for the operations of the union and to continually service our members without fail. We have committed that there shall be accountability and transparency on how this money has been used.
The union’s NOBs have been tasked with ensuring that there is transparency and accountability on how member’s money is used. To this effect, we are supporting the court case which is currently before the Specialized Commercial Crimes Court in relation to the disappearance of workers’ money. We have also submitted the Ernst & Young report to the investigating officer, the report will now form part of the police’s investigation on this matter.
We will not shield or protect anyone who has stolen workers’ money, we in fact, will be monitoring the court proceedings closely and will be seeking to attach assets of anyone who is found to have illegally and unlawfully benefited in the theft of workers’ money, the theft which has greatly affected the service which we render to our members.
We thank our members for their patience having entrusted us with resolving the challenges which the union had been facing for a long time. We are of the view that this unity process will assist the union in moving forward and preoccupying itself with defending the gains made in the local government sector and furthering the interests of municipal workers across the country.
Our first and primary priority remains the betterment of the conditions of service for municipal workers. In the spirit of unifying the country’s municipal workers, we will be reaching out to workers who left the union, particularly those who left to form other organisations. We envisage a situation where all municipal workers are organised and under one umbrella, being SAMWU.
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat
Koena Ramotlou, General Secretary (073 254 9394), Dumisani Magagula, Deputy General Secretary (084 806 4005) or Papikie Mohale, National Media Officer (073 710 0356).