SAMWU calls for urgent intervention as workers at Emfuleni face black Christmas

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) in the Gauteng Province is disturbed by the decision of ESKOM to attach the bank account of Emfuleni Local Municipality through a court order. This unfortunate may lead to a possibility of workers at Emfuleni local Municipality not being paid their December 2022 salaries. We are informed that Emfuleni had communicated to employees that they still engaging Eskom and employees will be paid on 23 December 2022.

Upon SAMWU engaging the municipality, we were informed that as at 14 December 2022, the municipality was owing Eskom R5 billion. ESKOM secured two orders against the municipality with one secured in 2018 for R71 Million and the second one secured in October 2022 for R1.3 billion. The current account between September and November 2022 is at R328 million. The municipality informed SAMWU that they were still engaging with Eskom, and they had proposed a payment plan which states that the R328 million be paid in the next 6 months. Eskom demands that the R368 million be paid immediately before the bank account is released. 

Council of Emfuleni local municipality had earlier taken a decision that workers be paid their salaries on 20th of December 2022. It is unfortunate that the decision was not implemented and subsequent to that the Municipality issued correspondence that salaries will be paid on 23 December 2022. In pursuit of addressing the matter, SAMWU engaged the municipality and office of the Premier for intervention. We appreciate intervention of the Premier in trying to resolve the matter. 

We are appealing to both the Premier and the Minister of Public Enterprises to intervene and ensure that workers are paid their December salaries. Workers cannot suffer due to the failure of both Emfuleni and ESKOM reaching an agreement. SAMWU demands that Eskom should uplift the attachment and allow workers to be paid their salaries. Apart from subjecting workers to a black Christmas, the non-payment of salaries will have a dire consequence for workers noting that medical aid, retirement funds and insurances will not be paid. Workers will also not be in a position to buy schoolbooks for their kids. 

The situation which the Emfuleni Local Municipality faces is testament to the non-existent Inter-governmental Relations between the three spheres of government. The fact that a state owned entity is allowed to sabotage another organ of the state leads to surmise that government departments are operating as though South Africa is a federal state. To make matters worse, in 2019, the municipality was placed under administration though Section 139 of the country’s Constitution, an intervention which has not materialised in any tangible results for residents, workers and service delivery.  

In the interest of ensuring that our members are paid for the services which they have already rendered to the municipality as an employer, the union has taken a decision to immediately approach the Courts for an urgent relief. This decision is also based on the fact that the attachment of the bank account will also result in a collapse of service delivery in the area as supplies needed will not be procured. 

We further call on the intervention of the Department of Public Enterprise to immediately engage with Eskom, the Gauteng Provincial Government and the Emfuleni Local Municipality to find an amicable solution to the current impasse. There is no carrying government will allow workers to be subjected to a Black Christmas!

Issued by SAMWU Gauteng 

Mpho Tladinyane

Provincial Secretary 

083 941 5888


Rhau Mphahlele

Vaal Regional Secretary 

061 422 0100