COSATU congratulates its Affiliate SAMWU for its steadfast resilience as it marks its 36-year anniversary today

24 October 2023

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) congratulates its Affiliate, the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) on reaching its 36th anniversary.

SAMWU emerged from the decision of various unions to unite in 1987 and form the largest union in the local government sector in South Africa. This union would soon become a crucial tool in the protection of workers in municipalities and the water sector.

Many of the members of this union are subjected to delipidating municipalities who fail to pay salaries for consecutive months, make third party deductions, and incapable of efficiently managing funds meant for the provision of services to the public. Workers face the insecurity of their pension funds due to the municipalities’ ill-conceived decisions of their employers.

Politicians and managers misuse monies at the backdrop of a system in which society has lost confidence. The same system, which has also become an endorser of the Municipal Systems Amendment Act.

Despite these demoralizing conditions, they continue to work, resilient in their duties to serve the country, at the expense of their own needs. Employers undermine these workers by further disrespecting the conditions of employment and collective bargaining.

COSATU salutes these workers. They have illustrated their unwavering commitment to their work whilst tides of challenges became apparent. Even during the times when the country faced the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, they risked their lives to ensure that the citizens still received adequate services. Today their efforts are negated as employers refuse to compensate them or honour signed wage agreements.  

Additionally, the leadership of SAMWU and forces on the ground in workplaces across the country have had to resist a wave of attacks on their members as we have witnessed with recent colossal dismissals. Employers with unwelcome attitudes are growing in numbers, but SAMWU’s fortitude is undeterred. 

The 14th National Congress of COSATU was clear that the only way to respond to such challenges is for workers to take forward their struggles, advance and defend their interests and aspirations, and fight to the bitter end for that which belongs to them.

COSATU commends the devotion and commitment of SAMWU leadership and members, who continue to carry the spirit of unity derived from the founding principles that grew it into the union it is today.  As a Federation and ordinary citizens, your contribution to the stability and running of the country does not go unnoticed.

May this militant union continue to grow in leaps and bounds!

Long live SAMWU, long live!

Issued by COSATU

For further comment please contact:

Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687