Samwu to meet ANC after poll threat

2011-03-09 12:47

The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) is set to meet the ANC today after the Cosatu-aligned union threatened to withdraw its support from the ruling party.

Spokesman Tahir Sema said the union would meet the ANC’s regional executive committee to discuss their troubles, which include the problems facing municipal workers in Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg.

Earlier this week, Samwu urged the ANC to intervene in the problems municipal workers faced or risk losing votes. The move comes two months ahead of the 2011 local government polls.

The union has been involved in a spate of industrial action in Gauteng recently.

A strike by Samwu-affiliated Metrobus drivers in Johannesburg entered its fourth week on Monday. They are unhappy about changes to their shift rosters. More than 900 Samwu members were fired following an illegal strike that left one person dead in Pretoria last week.

About 22 Samwu strikers were arrested in Kempton Park on Monday for offences ranging from public violence to intimidation and assault. They went on strike in protest against seven of their shop stewards being fired last month.

Regarding the strike in Tshwane, Sema said the union would resort to legal action to have workers reinstated should political intervention fail.

“We are going to give this process, these talks with the ANC, the space to come up with an amicable solution,” he said.

He voiced concern over the month-long Metrobus strike due to the scores of commuters left stranded and the plight of bus drivers facing the prospect of a month without a salary.

“Samwu is deeply concerned about commuters and also concerned about bus drivers not receiving a salary as a result of the strike. The “no work, no pay” principle applies,” he said.

“The situation is now desperate and we want to resolve the issue as soon as possible.”

Yesterday, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe expressed his displeasure over Samwu’s criticism of the party’s local election manifesto, which the union cited as another reason it would pull its support for the ANC in the upcoming polls.

The meeting between the ANC and Samwu kicks off at 3pm.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) entered the fray today, accusing Samwu of “trying to influence candidate selection procedures in the tripartite alliance by using crippling strikes as a weapon”.

Fred Nel, the DA spokesman for local government in Gauteng, said: “Once again ordinary citizens must bear the brunt of service delivery failure due to the ruling alliance’s internal power plays.”

He urged Samwu to follow “legal routes” before resorting to industrial action.

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