DURBAN - The newly established municipal workers union, Municipal and Allied Trade Union of SA (Matusa), has vowed to fight for the absorption of all workers under Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
The union, which claimed to have recruited more than 5 000 workers in the city lashed out at the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) for failing to fight for exploited workers in eThekwini.
The national deputy secretary-general Thulani Ngwenya told the Daily News on Tuesday that the union was shocked to learn that there were workers who joined the EPWP programme in 2014 but have never been absorbed, calling it exploitation of the highest order.
The new leadership held its first meeting with workers in Durban on Monday, where it vowed to tackle workers’ issues that Samwu had been failing to deal with.
Ngwenya accused the ANC and the Cosatu-affiliated Samwu of having sold out the workers by refusing to sign an agreement in 2019 after the SA African Local Government Association had agreed to the improvement of workers’ grades.
The new union is affiliated to the SA African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), founded by former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and Numsa, after they were both expelled.
“We are massively recruiting workers in eThekwini. Workers told us that after Samwu sold them out, they decided that they must join the union which was not affiliated to any political party which would only serve workers’ interests,” said Ngwenya.
His union also discovered that Salga had agreed to move workers on Grade 8 to Grade 10 but Samwu refused to sign and the agreement had not been implemented since 2019 because of Samwu’s refusal to sign the deal, he said.
Ngwenya said in terms of their understanding his union had already met the required membership threshold to be represented in the bargaining council and to be recognised by the employer. Reaching a 5 000 membership in eThekwini which has around 23 000 workers meant the union has achieved the 15% required threshold.
One of the EPWP workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, claimed to have started working in 2014.
She said she and her colleagues had been fighting to be fully employed but nothing has happened.
She said they were pinning their hopes on the new union and EFF labour desk which has promised to fight for their absorption as well.
Samwu regional secretary Xolani Dube hit back at Matusa saying he would not engage with people who were not recognised as a union, adding that the new kid on the block was not part of the discussion at the bargaining council.