Durban — The general secretary of the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), Zwelinzima Vavi, has vowed that the union will do whatever it takes to fight for the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers in eThekwini Municipality.
Vavi was addressing the general meeting of the City’s workers under the Municipal and Allied Trade Union of SA (Matusa), at the Curries Fountain Sports Ground.
Vavi told the scores of EPWP workers that regardless of how long the fight takes, they would fight for what is right.
“It is shocking to find out that there are still workers in eThekwini Municipality who were incubated in this programme in 2014 and who are still under it. They don’t have any benefits while working in the shadow of retired municipal workers who were permanent.”
If women were to stop doing unpaid labour for just one day, the world would come to a standstill, he said.
“We are here to declare war. We are starting a new process to liberate all EPWP workers. We want every security guard, every cleaner and also workers of the tenderpreneurs to be in-sourced.”
Vavi said this very same reason caused the mineworkers to be shot brutally at Marikana because they were fighting for a mere R12 500 minimum wage, not the ‘nonsense wage’ of R3 000.
He threatened a shutdown for this minimum wage of R12 500 to be made a reality.
Matusa deputy secretary Thulani Ngwenya told the workers that they had filed a case of mutual interest in order for workers to be in Category 10.
“The municipality was the first point of contact but they did not respond so we filed a dispute with the bargaining council as we now have a clear status as a union,” Ngwenya said.
Ngwenya accused the ANC and Cosatu-affiliated Samwu of having sold out the workers by refusing to sign this agreement in 2019 after the SA Local Government Association had agreed to the improvement of workers’ grades.
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, means the union has achieved the 15% required threshold.
Another strong argument by the workers was the promise made by mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, during a meeting at Curries Fountain in 2020, that workers would continue working even after their two-year term had ended.
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