Samwu calls off strike plan

2011-05-11 00:00

HIGH-LEVEL meetings between top leaders of the ANC and union federation Cosatu — which involved the presidents of both organisations, Jacob Zuma and Sdumo Dlamini — led to the last-minute suspension of a crippling one day national municipal strike scheduled to take place on Friday.

The strike, organised by the 220 000 member-strong, Cosatu-affiliated South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), was expected to cripple the daily running of municipal services across the country.

It was also going to be a huge embarrassment to the ANC on the eve of the local government elections, scheduled to take place next week.

The strike was organised to reinforce the union’s demands for an 18% across-the-board increase for all municipal workers, a call for Co-Operative and Traditional Affairs Minister Scelo Shiceka to be sacked and for an end to continuous attacks on the Samwu membership and leadership at various municipalities, among many other grievances.

Samwu national spokesperson Tahir Sema yesterday confirmed that the union had decided to suspend the strike on the basis of the outcome of interaction between Samwu, Cosatu and the ANC.

Sema said that Samwu held a special national executive committee (NEC) meeting on Monday to consider the “political engagement” held with the ANC, which started last week.

“Our NEC welcomed the outcome of the discussion that provided the basis to deal with the challenges and problems Samwu is facing, including, but not limited to, the continuous attacks on the Samwu membership and leadership at various municipalities.

“The majority of these suspensions and dismissals are based on politically motivated actions.”

Also discussed was “the negative effect brought upon by privatisation in the local government sector and the controversial municipal systems amendment bill, which undermines collective bargaining”.

Another issues dealt with in the discussions was the banning of labour brokers. The ANC indicated that concerns regarding labour brokers would be dealt with through labour amendments.

The NEC noted the progress made on certain issues, Sema said, and realises that some of them are subject to a process, but “such process must be completed within specific time frames”.

“We will monitor closely progress made on the priority issues. The progress made on the priority issues will be assessed and reported to the union’s special NEC to be convened on May 16,” Sema said.

He said the the parrties to the talks decided to discourage any adversarial approach during this process in order to give the process enough time to deal with the matters at hand.

PRETORIA — The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when Samwu suspended its planned strike.

“(SA) Municipal Workers’ Union, thank you very much,” IEC chairperson Brigalia Bam said after a meeting with union representatives in Centurion.

“Convey this to workers and shopstewards … Yoh, we were so nervous, we were spending sleepless nights. Can you imagine an election taking place when there is a strike?” she asked. — Sapa.

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