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Samwu members march to Durban City Hall, raise concerns over safety after murders

Staff members affiliated to the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) marched to the Durban City Hall yesterday to hand over a memorandum of grievances.

Members of the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) outside the Durban City Hall yesterday. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 24, 2022


Durban - A LABOUR union in the eThekwini Municipality is unhappy with the city’s response to the murders of staff on municipal property.

Staff members affiliated to the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) marched to the Durban City Hall yesterday to hand over a memorandum of grievances.

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The workers are concerned about, among other things, the assassination of their colleagues on municipal property.

Samwu leader in eThekwini Xolani Dube said there had been many workers killed in a short space of time.

He stressed that the march was not planned in advance.

“We were having a meeting with shop stewards and they resolved that they are tired of these endless meetings that happen in boardrooms, that never produce any tangible results; they said we must put together a petition and march to city hall,” said Dube.

In the memorandum of grievances, Samwu called on the city to urgently intervene in solving health and safety issues.

“While understanding that the employer has made a commitment to resolving the issues, we believe in the need to stand together and condemn the barbaric slaughter of employees at the workplace.

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“EThekwini Municipality has become the symbol of many worker rights violations. It is time we demand that as a union, we place all the workers’ challenges on the agenda for non-compliance on the health safety issues,” said the memorandum.

The union said there were many other challenges workers in the municipality were faced with. These included unfair payment of leave encashment, non-payment of performance allowances, indefinite acting stints in posts, lack of resources, such as trucks and equipment, and the alleged arrogance of some senior managers.

They called for all these matters to be quickly addressed.

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“We therefore call on the employer to decisively act on providing security at the workplace in order to protect all employees against killings,” said the memorandum.

Dube said they believed the employer could do a lot more to protect workers.

“At the moment, we have not seen any action they are taking in this regard, especially considering that in their (management) office the security is very tight.

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“We have a challenge when it comes to engaging management directly; they are very difficult to get hold off. They might send a representative to a meeting but that representative has no power to take any decision.

“That is why we are also calling on the city to employ a full-time city manager; it cannot be that a municipality of this size is without a city manager for such a long time,” he said.

While tabling his budget speech, mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the city was concerned about the killings of its staff members, especially those in the water unit.

He said they would meet with the unions and staff to find a way forward.

“It is worrying that we continue to have incidents where our employees lose their lives on duty. Plans are afoot to meet with our employees, more especially eThekwini water and sanitation, trade unions and senior management to map a way forward about strengthening security in all our buildings,” he said.

At least three staff members in the water unit have been killed while on duty. One was shot dead in his office in Springfield, a female staff member was shot dead in the water depot, and another male staff member was shot in the Folweni area while on stand-by.

Queen Mbatha of the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union in Durban said they had not met with the mayor over the issue and wanted to discuss the issue of employee safety.