Saneliswe Shamase
2 minute read
4 Nov 2010

Council workers threaten to jump Samwu ship

Saneliswe Shamase

MUNICIPAL workers affiliated to the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) are threatening to jump ship....

MUNICIPAL workers affiliated to the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) are threatening to jump ship.

They are dissatisfied with the way in which the union is dealing with issues that concern Msunduzi workers.

Relations between workers and the union have been near boiling point for months, and workers who spoke to The Witness did so in confidence for fear of victimisation.

They said they are considering leaving Samwu and joining the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) instead because they are reluctant to pay fees to a union that does not represent their interests.

They said some shop stewards are concerned with furthering their own interests and trying to get high positions in the new municipal structure rather than dealing with workers’ problems.

“We’re still waiting for the elections of the new shop stewards because we are tired of shop stewards who use their positions to further their own agendas,” complained a member.

The Witness recently reported on divisions between Samwu members — those in favour of decisions taken by the provincial intervention team led by Johann Mettler and those who want to march against it.

Samwu provincial chairperson John Dlamini admitted that after the municipality was put under administration, there were workers who were not satisfied with their union representatives, accusing them of colluding with the intervention team behind the scenes.

He said a general meeting was called and workers were addressed about their concerns and about the process that led to the suspension of 15 shop stewards in September.

He said the workers were told that the matter was being investigated and issues concerning them would be handled by the local organiser as well as the branch leadership.

Regarding the issue of the suspended shop stewards, Dlamini said: “We’re trying to be as democratic as possible because members complained about divisions coupled with other matters. These things are still under investigation so I can’t go into detail.”

Dlamini assured workers that the suspensions will be finalised in the coming weeks.

“Let them wait for investigations to be exhausted and then the process of electing office bearers will be no problem. They just have to wait two weeks,” he said.

Dlamini encouraged unhappy union members to either phone him or write a letter so that their concerns can be dealt with.