Pretoria - Labour unions affiliated with Cosatu are putting pressure on the new ANC national executive and President Cyril Ramaphosa to ensure that his party respects labour bargaining council resolutions and the interests of the workers.
The SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) is the latest to urge the ANC to ensure that its new leadership relook into the disputes with unions following differences over the unilateral implementation of the 3% salary hike for public servants last month.
While Samwu does not fall within the category of public servants, it also raised concern about the manner in which the government dealt with the dispute involving public sector unions.
Samwu general secretary Dumisani Magagula said his union shared the sentiments of Cosatu that workers across the three spheres of government were frustrated by alleged poor treatment of workers while community members, who have witnessed a lack of delivery of services, high cost of living, crime, corruption and load shedding were equally frustrated and hopeless.
“As Samwu, we encourage the newly-elected leadership to immediately work towards restoring the trust between workers and government which has been eroded by government’s actions to deliberately collapse collective bargaining, dictating workers’ salary and wage increases and reneging on legally binding collective agreements.
“It has always been our position that the ANC as a leader of society, should not preside over a government that deliberately denies workers their increases as this not only prejudices workers but also sets a precedent that private companies will follow,” Magagula said.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi when she delivered her message of support to the ANC’s elective conference, which adjourned this week until January 5 next year.
Addressing delegates, Losi said that “workers have put the ANC on a final warning” for its decision to unilaterally implement the public service sector salary hike.
Tensions between the ANC and labour unions intensified in September during Cosatu’s 14th national congress, in which the majority demanded that Cosatu serve divorce papers on the ANC. The unions wanted Cosatu to endorse the SACP to contest the 2024 general election on its own.
Hoping for a new attitude from the ANC, Samwu also urged the party to prioritise the recovery and stability of Eskom, saying the leadership should ensure energy security for the country through Eskom as a way of growing the economy and shielding residents from the constant blackouts.
“As municipal workers, we are concerned by the state of South Africa’s municipalities. Many of these municipalities have been rendered dysfunctional. Some, such as Ditsobotla Local Municipality in the North West, collapsed as a result of political infighting among ANC councillors, who at some point elected parallel structures to run the municipality.
“As the new leadership begin with their work, there is a need to ensure that deployees of the ANC throughout the country’s municipalities work in the interest of municipalities and not political factions,” Magagula said.
He said corruption, fraud and maladministration also played a role in destabilising and collapsing many municipalities in the country, saying the situation was so dire that every year when the auditor-general releases municipal audit outcomes, it was always expected that irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure would increase.
“For years, municipalities have been neglected to a point wherein they are no longer able to deliver services to residents, despite constitutional provisions allowing both provincial and national governments to intervene in failing municipalities,” he said.
Magagula also expressed concern over reports that workers at Emfuleni Local Municipality in Gauteng would not be receiving their December salaries as the entity’s bank account had been attached through a court order by Eskom for non-payment.
“The attachment of a municipal bank account affects both workers and service delivery. This is also a testament to the non-existent inter-governmental relations between the spheres of government. We, therefore, call on the ANC as the leader of society to prioritise assisting and stabilising the country’s municipalities. It is immoral, unethical and criminal for government to subject workers and their families to a black Christmas,” Magagula said.