City of Johannesburg and trade unions signed a MoU agreement Picture:Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - The SA Municipal Workers Union says individuals purporting to be representing it who signed a memorandum of understanding with City of Johannesburg were not mandated by the union to do so.

South Africa's biggest municipal union said the agreement signed by Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba and unions on Tuesday was invalid and illegal as it prevented workers from embarking on a strike.

"We place it on record that Samwu is not part and parcel to the memorandum of understanding [MoU] as it was signed by people who are not mandated to enter into any  agreement on behalf of the union, and as such, it can be summed as an agreement between the city and the said individual, not the union and its membership within the City of Johannesburg," the union said in a statement.

"We further place on record our dissatisfaction of the contents of the agreement in that it seeks to erode the democratic gains made by workers, in particular, the Labour Relations Act (LRA). There is no agreement that can be reached between parties which can supersede the laws of the country and as such, we, therefore, consider the MoU as illegal and invalid. The letter and spirit of the MoU seek to override the main collective agreement and the LRA, this coupled with the fact that individuals who committed the union to the MoU have no locus standi within the union."

Samwu and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) signed the agreement which the city said was binding upon all parties and is enforceable in terms of the Labour Relations Act. The signing ceremony followed a lekgotla held on Friday with representatives of the city and both trade unions.

City manager Ndivhoniswani Lukhwareni said the memorandum of understanding was a first of its kind in local government history, achieving a "strategic partnership" between the city and its trade unions.

“At its core is a recognition that the City and its unions are interdependent, and as such can find common ground is available to advance the needs of our residents and employees in Johannesburg. The MoU establishes a framework which will establish a partnership between Imatu, Samwu and the city in the budget planning processes of government. As representatives of employees in the city, organised labour has a critical perspective in the execution of service delivery," said Lukhwareni.  

Samwu chastised Mashaba and his team saying they knowingly signed an agreement with individuals that were proclaimed to be illegitimate members in a 2018 Constitutional Court judgement.

"The city is disingenuous in that they are well aware of the ruling of the Constitutional Court that confirmed that these individuals are not leaders of the union. This was an application which was taken to the courts by the City of Johannesburg. We will, therefore, be speedily engaging our members on the reasons leading to them signing an agreement which seeks to erode and reverse the gains made by workers." 

Ours is to strengthen and forge a united front in defending our members in the workplace. We will not allow the employer, in particular the City of Johannesburg and the DA [Democratic Alliance] to deliberately use the divide and conquer strategy in an attempt to sterilize the the union."   

- African News Agency (ANA)