Unions slam call for Tshwane municipal staff to return to work as Covid-19 infections fall
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Pretoria - Workers’ unions in Tshwane are at loggerheads with acting municipal manager Mmaseabata Mutlaneng after they refused to comply with her directive recalling all employees back to work.
In an internal circular dated February 23, Mutlaneng ordered that staff should work at 100% capacity due to recent evidence that Covid-19 transmissions had dramatically declined. She assured workers that the municipality would put in place health protocols and social-distancing measures.
However, the unions – the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) and Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) – questioned her decision to stop rotational working shifts without first consulting with them.
In a scathing letter sent to Mutlaneng, Samwu's regional secretary, Mpho Tladinyane, said: “The decision taken by the acting city manager to recall all workers is unilateral and was never discussed or engaged with labour at Covid-19 tactical committee meeting."
He said the last agreement between the labour and the employer was that staff should work at 70% capacity in line with adjusted level 3 protocol.
Contacted yesterday in light of the adjusted level 1 announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday, he said the union continued to stick to its guns.
However, he said: "The risk adjusted level 1 as approved by the tactical committee stated that the recall of employees should be between 90% and 100%."
Parties will on Monday convene a meeting to further discuss the matter with the employer.
This week, workers were still working according to rotational shifts and not at 100% capacity.
Tladinyane said Mutlaneng must desist from behaving like an "independent state'' and observe the government's regulation that "all persons who are able to work from home must do so".
He said union members would not be "returning to work as per your unlawful and uninformed directive".
Imatu regional chairperson, Wynand Potgieter, said the union's stance for workers to remain on rotation would remain until the next tactical meeting had taken place with both labour and employer and "changes are made accordingly".
"We will not risk the safety of our members without proper consultation," he said.