COSATU KZN is deeply concerned about the state of affairs in eThekwini  

The Congress of South African Trade Unions, (COSATU) is concerned about the delay in finding an amicable solution to resolve the stalemate between the workers of eThekwini Metropolitan, uShaka Marine employees and the employer, eThekwini Municipality.

This standoff is compromising the already undermined service delivery to poor communities and is affecting other key institutions such as healthcare facilities.

uShaka Marine is an establishment of eThekwini Municipality and workers have been on a protected strike for almost a month now without any resolution.

Last week Tuesday COSATU’s Affiliate, the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU), convened a general membership meeting to give an update on matters that leaders were mandated by workers to resolve with their employer, eThekwini Metropolitan. The meeting succeeded the march that was staged by the workers in September last year and the general members meeting held in November, where a memorandum was submitted to the municipality.

Workers were unpleased about the progress made on the issues, alluding that they were not taken seriously and felt being disrespected by the employer, since these matters were long outstanding. This led to workers marching to the employer to demand answers.

From that time, the situation has become untenable in the eThekwini municipality leading to the current stand-off. This stalemate has highly compromised service delivery of waste collection, electricity and water supply, and it has a negative impact on the residents of eThekwini.

COSATU wishes to assure the public that the matter is receiving urgent attention it deserves from the leadership of the Federation and that urgent engagements to finding a solution are taking place.

The failure to engage and resolve workers’ grievances over these numerous months is an indication of the extreme arrogance of the municipal leadership. We hope that officials will return to the negotiating table and show the necessary sobriety and maturity to calm an already tense situation and find common sense solutions to resolve this crisis.

COSATU is worried about the allegations of political influence and criminality aimed at hijacking the genuine struggles of workers for a particular political agenda of electioneering.

If this is true, as COSATU we want to caution workers not to fall into a trap of being political prey for politicians who wish to exploit their genuine grievances. We will not allow opportunists to exploit the legitimate demands of workers.

SAMWU, as a progressive and revolutionary union has over the past and without any shadow of doubt displayed high levels of capability and commitment to improving the conditions and living standards of municipal workers. This credibility remains uncontested. Its leadership has shown its determination commitment towards resolving these matters, including the correct grading of the Municipality.

COSATU will continue to support the interventions by SAMWU to ensure workers’ demands are heard and resolved.  We will continue to defend the rights of workers and SAMWU to engage in industrial action as protected under the Constitution and the law.

As a responsible and progressive Federation, we encourage workers to continue with their normal duties, until a deadlock is reached between the union and the employer and where workers would be legally protected to exercise their constitutional right to strike.

We will continue to work closely with and support the work done by the leadership of SAMWU to resolve these matters.

We call on the municipal officials and leadership to work with COSATU and SAMWU to urgently address issues raised by workers.

Issued by COSATU KZN

Edwin Mkhize(KZN Provincial Secretary)
Cell:082 399 7756