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The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) in eThekwini has learnt with discomfort and agitation comments made by the Mayor on the 14th January this year. In comments that are derogatory, condescending and purely disrespectful, Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda labels workers as lazy, being paid for doing nothing.
As SAMWU and municipal workers in general, we take offense to the comments by the Mayor as they not only tarnish the good image of workers but further seeks to pit workers against residents who live side by side with workers and are also serviced by the same workers. To make matters worse, the Mayor has on several occasions refused to apologise for these comments which are unpalatable.
SAMWU will not let such utterances go unchallenged, a responsible leader of a City like eThekwini should have exercised restraint and caution before issuing such statements. We believe that such utterances should be taken with a pinch of salt, as they are nothing but political grandstanding and playing to the gallery.
The facts are that SAMWU has in a number of times, raised serious issues with eThekwini Municipality and plead for urgent intervention in the in solving such. Among others, we raised Health and Safety crisis, where workers are killed at work, some inside Municipal buildings. Workplace, eThekwini Municipality has become a symbol of the many worker-rights violations. It is time we demand that as a Union, we place all worker challenges on the agenda for non-compliant on Health and Safety issues.
Workers of the Municipality have suffered enough through non-production of personal protective equipment (PPE), non-payment of Group life, killings at workplace, unfair payment of leave encashment, non-payment of performance allowance, indefinite acting, lack of resources such as (trucks, equipment) arrogance of some senior management, wage curve (category 10), insourcing of (entities, security and EPWP) to mention a few.
Instead of addressing these issues faced by workers and also thanking municipal workers for ensuring that they continue delivering services to residents of the City, particularly during the pandemic, the Mayor decided to repay workers by insulting them. It is our strong belief as SAMWU that the City does not care about the employees. In fact, we are convinced that Mr Kaunda is playing to the gallery with the intention of saving his dwindling political career which has obviously reached a cul-de-sac.
There are a lot of issues that have been raised by workers through SAMWU workplace visits programs. Some of the immediate areas visited are City Fleet, Metro Police and we identified that workers are unable to effectively execute their duties due to lack of resources, such as tools and spares. At Metro Police, we identified that from 2013 the employer consistently failed to provide uniform to members, some of them ended buying uniform from their pockets, some have been issuing fines on vehicles while not wearing their uniform which is illegal according to National Road Traffic Act.
The employer for almost a period of 6 months didn't provide or failed to provide members with books e,g section 56 and 341 notices which hindered them in performing their duties. December 2022 the employer told the ratepayers through media statements that they will be roadblocks all over the city to combat drinking and driving. The city has dismally failed to procure tests kit. We are curious at to how drinking and driving roadblocks are conducted. In some instances the employer even failed to provide toilet papers for its employees within the ablution facilities.
At Water Department workers told us that there is a shortage of Jet trucks, the Pump station dysfunctional, shortage of escorting security, shortage of fittings and vehicles. These are some of the issues that are a testimony that workers in eThekwini Municipality are not lazy. These are critical demands from workers to address some of the operational challenges at the office and depot levels. The workers have also requested the Mayor to come and speak to them at the stadium in order to explain their challenges.
As SAMWU we hereby demand the following:
1. Mayor to apologise for the unfortunate statement calling workers lazy.
2. Decisively and urgently as raised in our petition dated 23 June 2023, to act on providing security to the workplace in order to protect all employees against killings.
3. Demand for a fair application of leave encashment.
4. Call for the immediate payment of performance incentives to all employees.
5. Call for the immediate payment of Group Life.
6.Demand the provisions of PPE to all employees.
6. Demand clarity on bonus payment.
8. Call for filling of all vacant positions
9. Call for implementation of Wage curve (category 10).
10. Call for the provision of working equipment such as trucks, vehicles.
11. Call for the insourcing of all entities such as Ushaka Marine and Durban ICC, EPWP, Security.
12. Call for the removal of arrogant managers from Depots.
13. Call for clarification on allegations related to some Heads of Departments who are facing investigation.
14. Call for the realignment of Municipal Training Centres, particularly Engineering and Electricity.
15. Call for the refurbishment of all Council buildings that are in a state of disrepair.
16. Nonavailability of printing papers in the Municipality.
Issued by The South African Municipal Workers’ Union
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