The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) will be embarking on an indefinite protected strike against the George Municipality. This is after the parties reached a deadlock on negotiations through the Local Labour Forum (LLF) as an extension of the South African Local Bargaining Council (SALGBC). The negotiations go as far back as 2019/2020 on which some decisions were taken in the LLF, but the employer (George Municipality) dismally failed to implement to date.
SAMWU went to a strike in June 2021 and the Acting Municipal Manager (Dr Michel Gratz) blatantly refused to collect the list of grievances and was adamant that it was an illegal strike even after a certificate was issued then. SAMWU tried to re-open the negotiations in good faith, but that resulted in more arrogance from the side of the employer. This left SAMWU with no other option but to refer a dispute of mutual interest to the SALGBC.
The conciliation to resolve the dispute was resolved for 05th December 2022, which was extended to 20th & 24th January 2023. SAMWU was hoping that the parties would come to some agreement on the unresolved grievances as SALGA delegation was part of the conciliation process on 20th January 2023. The employer displayed a very arrogant attitude and parties reached a deadlock that led to a total collapse of the negotiations. This led to a certificate being issued to SAMWU to exercise its only right of embarking on industrial action. The date of the action will be Wednesday, 24th May 2023. The action will be in two-fold aiming at addressing service delivery challenges and issues of mutual interest.
The employer has once again made false and unfounded remarks that this is an illegal strike after being notified officially by the union (SAMWU) that they will be embarking on a legal strike in terms of the Gatherings Act. Several threats were communicated to the union which include interdicting the strike. The employer (George Municipality) further threatened to make an application to request the court to order cost against our official (Mr. Peter Africa) in his personal capacity for executing his duties and acting on behalf of a solid mandate from its members.
SAMWU strongly condemn these frivolous and vexatious actions with the strongest contempt they deserve. This is another attempt by this employer to abuse and waste ratepayers’ resources for their own narrow agenda that lacks prospects of success. The municipality is in possession of the certificate issued to SAMWU to go on strike, yet they want to challenge the legality of the intended strike action. The employer must clearly understand that they cannot dictate how we must conduct our business when exercising our rights to strike. We are not taking any instructions from the employer as we are acting independently as a party in the local government sector.
SAMWU will be embarking on this strike action for unresolved grievances that are long outstanding amongst others the following:
· The demand for third-party deductions that are only allowed for IMATU.
· The demand for payment of Covid-19 compensation to all employees
· The union bashing of SAMWU shop stewards.
· Unilateral implementation of Restructuring and Recruitment & Selection policy.
· The non – transportation of employees and employer deviating from their transport policy.
· The disciplinary processes of the employer that are one–sided.
· Investigation into the allegations of fruitless and wasteful expenditure by the MM.
· The long outstanding TASK Job Evaluations & Appeals, etcetera.
Therefore, we are calling on all our members to heed to the call of ensuring this upcoming strike becomes a great success and be counted as one of the biggest historic events in the books of SAMWU. They must come out in their numbers to support this march as part of the revolutionary struggles of the working class. There will be no labour peace at George Municipality until our demands are met. This is a fight that we are not going to abandon after declaring George Municipality a special project.
Issued by SAMWU Western Cape
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