Johannesburg - A faction of the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) has set itself on a collision course with the City of Joburg’s mayor Herman Mashaba following his decision to recognise another rival group.
Last month, Mashaba and the rival Samwu members entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in which both agreed to resolve disputes on all labour-related matters, including strike actions.
However, general secretary Koena Ramotlou on Tuesday said his union’s special central executive committee (SCEC) meeting held at the weekend had been informed of the MOU which has been signed “by individuals purporting to be representing Samwu and the City of Johannesburg”.
“The SCEC is shocked that ‘class-conscious’ individuals would sign an agreement with the employer giving assurance that there would never be a strike in the workplace.”
He said that the SCEC considered the agreement “as non-binding to the union” and as such supported the intentions by its members in the City of Johannesburg to declare a dispute over the MOU. “We reaffirm that a strike is a constitutional right of workers and as such cannot be taken away from our members through the signing of MOUs.
“We, therefore, distance the union from this personal arrangement with the City of Johannesburg, as it contradicts the prescripts of the Labour Relations Act and is not in the interest of municipal workers, and our members in particular.”
According to Ramotlou, Mashaba’s decision to endorse a certain grouping in the labour union was aimed at dividing the workers.
“We are well aware of well-orchestrated moves by municipalities, which are led by the DA, in particular, the City of Johannesburg to collapse collective bargaining. This issue has now become a direct attack on municipal workers, as the DA wants to remove all municipalities which they govern out of the auspices of the SA Local Government Bargaining Council and the SA Local Government Association.”
He added the union would not allow the DA to erode the democratic gains he said have been achieved by workers through sweat and blood.
The city has since declined to comment on Ramatlou’s statements.