SAMWU statement on the unrest and disruption of services in the City of Tshwane

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) in the Tshwane region has noted with great concern the disruption of services and attack on workers within the City of Tshwane. These disruptions have been characterised by water interruptions and electricity blackouts in many parts of Tshwane and of great concern to us is the increase in the attacks that workers suffer at the hands of community members.  

Despite our many efforts to engage with the City, the Acting City  Manager and the Mayor have on numerous occasions blamed the disruption of services on members of the union, claiming that members of the union have embarked on an illegal strike. On the 22nd of March  2022, the Acting City  Manager went as far as issuing a “final ultimatum”, to whom we are not sure as members of SAMWU are not on strike, yet!

We place it on record that SAMWU has not called for a strike in the City of Tshwane as of yet. The union is not led by amateurs who do not know the procedure to be followed when embarking on a strike action. When the time comes for us to call for a strike given the decision by the City to deny workers their salary and wage increases, we shall do so following the correct procedures. 

We are however concerned as a union that the claims made by the City that workers have embarked on an illegal strike have resulted in community members turning against municipal workers. Over the weekend, a municipal worker from the Electricity Department was brutally assaulted by community members in Soshanguve as these community members believed the lies peddled by the City. This was not the first time that workers have been attacked by community members, especially in  Soshanguve, we have on numerous occasions pleaded with the City for the safety of workers following the increase in such attacks. 

Before we are municipal workers, we are members of communities and as such we too want to benefit from service delivery. It therefore would be illogical for a trade union like SAMWU to disrupt basic services such as water and electricity to the poor who need them the most. We are well aware of the plight of the poor and the working class and as such it would be irresponsible of us to even attempt to disrupt the most basic needs of communities in which we ourselves live in. 

We, therefore, call on the Acting City Manager and the Mayor to desist from driving a wedge between workers and community members. The two are seemingly hellbent on eroding the trust of community members and workers as a means to serve their anti-worker agenda which they have sought to instill in the City since they came into office. 

We further call on our members and municipal workers in general within the City to remain disciplined as they have been and not to allow themselves into these shenanigans that are being amplified by the City. We equally urge community members to not fall into the trap set by the City of driving a wedge between them and workers. 

The City is well aware of the reasons leading to the disruptions in the Tshwane and as such, it is not only opportunistic and political of the City to seek to blame these disruptions on members of the union. 

Issued by Tshwane Region 

Mpho Tladinyane, Regional Secretary (083 941 5888) 

Valentine Matlala, Deputy Regional Secretary (084 465 5598).