“This is just the beginning; we will not stop.”
These are the words of the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) shop stewards who marched to Professor Nyembezi Building on Thursday, where they were supposed to submit a memorandum.
However, no municipal official came out to accept the memorandum.
Samwu said they have concerns about how employee relations are playing out at Msunduzi Municipality.
They said there have been several cases where they feel some employee relations staff have not been carrying out their roles and responsibilities that fall in line with their core functions and the South African Bargaining Council Collective Agreement.
Some of their concerns regarding employee relations staff listed on the memorandum, includes a lack of knowledge and experience, that they are unprofessional, that illegal or wrong or defective charges or charge sheets are being served on their members (including shop stewards), the total disregard of the processes and procedures of the collective agreement and victimising, intimidating and harassing employees.
Samwu local secretary, Brandon George said it is a pity that they did not get a chance to present their memorandum to the general manager of corporate services.
He stressed that this was not an individual attack on the manager.
We feel that a lot of our members and staff within the municipality are being prosecuted, harassed and intimidated and that is not how the municipality should be treating their employees, including our shop stewards.
“All we want is a formidable solution and we can meet each other half way and resolve the issues we currently have.
“We are looking for labour peace in Msunduzi. We are not looking to disrupt services to the community, but at the end of the day we need to exercise our democratic right as organised labour as set out in the collective agreement,” he said.
He said they had tried to arrange a meeting to discuss their concerns but it was unsuccessful, so they continued with a march.
“They have shown us that they have no regard for organised labour in this municipality and it is total disrespect.”
He said the shop stewards will meet to decide a way forward.
“This is just the beginning; we are not going to stop.”
The members are demanding a full explanation on the following: employee relations staff core functions; the authorisation and delegation of authority for all employee relations staff in all collective agreement processes; and procedures on disciplinary processes provide qualifications, experience and credentials of all employee relations staff.
They are also demanding that they be provided with a program and a plan of action on what employee relations staff are currently doing to stabilise and bridge the gap between the employer and employees.
Municipal manager Lulamile Mapophloba said the union may have valid concerns, however, the platform and method of engagement is questionable.
They have never engaged through established Branch and Quarterly meetings, intended for mutual discussion with management. The door for engagement is still not closed if proper channels are followed, negating unprotected actions.