Narissa Subramoney
Copy rewriter
3 minute read
18 Mar 2022
11:10 am

City of Tshwane accuses Samwu of destabilising operations for political gain

Narissa Subramoney

The City is now threatening to take legal action against rogue Samwu members.

Tshwane City is accusing the South Africa Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) of trying to destabilise city operations.

A group of employees, apparently claiming to be Samwu members have embarked on a wild cat strike, demanding their contracts be changed to permanent employment.

These workers have been accused of preventing other non-striking staff from performing their duties, including intimidating contractors deployed to repair water and electrical outages.  

The City is now threatening to take legal action against the union and is encouraging staff who’ve been intimidated to file a case with the Labour Relations Unit.

“We have also identified multiple individuals already over the last few days who we will be taking action against,” said Tshwane mayor Randall Abrahams.

Samwu, in a letter to the city, has distanced themselves from the strike, claiming the demonstrating staff are part of the city’s Capacity Staff.

The city said in a statement that it’s seen pictures of striking staff sporting Samwu regalia.

“When illegally striking Samwu workers forcefully removed their colleagues from their offices threatened them and destroyed Tshwane property, Samwu leadership were silent,” said Abrahams.

“It suggests one of two things. Either the Samwu leadership are actively supporting the illegal actions of their members or the Samwu leadership team have in fact lost control of their organization and they exist in name alone,” said Abrahams.

The city is concerned that if the latter is true, it would suggest that Samwu leaders are no longer effective towards the majority of their members.

Abrahams has also slammed the union for the way in which it has been liaising with the city in recent communication.

“When Samwu communicates with the City of Tshwane their rhetoric and tone are inherently confrontational. Insults against the senior management and political leadership are commonly found in their letters,” said Abrahams. 

“It suggests an agenda that is inherently political, not in any way related to labour issues.”

When the strike began the city immediately mobilized multiple resources and departments to ensure the response was appropriate, saying the majority of employees reported to their posts.

Abraham suspects the motive for the wild cat strike is political.

“It seeks to split this organisation. To divide our city. To pit colleagues against each other purely because of failed union leadership,” said Abrahams. 

The city cannot be held to ransom by narrow political interests. 

Abrahams has apologised to Tshwane residents for the disruption of services.

Meanwhile, Samwu’s Regional Secretary Mpho Tladinyane reiterated that its members are not responsible for the strike.
Tladinyane said the union tried to call a meeting with its shop stewards shortly after news broke of the strike, but the city allegedly prevented them from the meeting.

He also denied accusations that Samwu members have gone rogue, saying demonstrators wearing the union’s colours or carrying their banners doesn’t necessarily mean they belong to Samwu.

“If I am in town and I see a person wearing a Citizen News T-shirt doing unlawful things, is it fair to assume that person is a Citizen employee?” asked Tladinyane.

Tladinyane declined to comment on other staff members being intimidated by striking workers.

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