Samwu threatens showdown with municipal manager

2012-02-20 00:00

UNIONISTS in the Msunduzi Municipality have threatened a show of force this week against the new “iron-fisted” municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi.

Top of their list of gripes is that posts were advertised in newspapers last week, rather than internally.

Said a leader in the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), which is behind the drive: “We will use every department in this municipality to turn things upside down. We will flex our muscle.

“We will show him [Nkosi] that we also wield power in this municipality,” said another.

“There is no David in this fight, it will be Goliath versus Goliath.”

Nkosi said the union was more than welcome to flex its muscles provided it followed the procedures and guidelines of the collective agreement.

The union’s main gripe is over the advertising of vacant posts in newspapers last week.

Union leaders told The Witness they wanted the call for external incumbents to be reversed as they would have preferred the jobs to be advertised internally first.

About 80 posts were advertised.

“The advertisement of these posts was done in compliance with the municipal recruitment policy,” said Nkosi.

The Samwu leaders said officials who had been given acting positions after restructuring two years ago should be allowed to apply for the jobs. Adverting the posts would rob present employees who had helped the municipality when it was in need, they added.

Nkosi said the municipality regretted its failure to consult.

However, he pointed out that it was not a legislated requirement.

“The urgency to fill these posts meant that we had to advertise as soon as we had an indication that these were budgeted,” he said.

“The municipality is under a lot of pressure to deliver essential services and can ill-afford to reverse the adverts.”

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) secretary in the Umgungundlovu District, Nkululeko Maphanga, called for an urgent meeting between the parties.

Samwu, which has a membership of just over 2 500 of an estimated 3 500 Msunduzi Municipality workers, said its leadership had battled to arrange meetings with Nkosi.

Last month Nkosi calmly read the riot act to striking workers who stormed the city hall demanding to see him.

On Tuesday shop stewards approached him as he and Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela were coming out of a meeting at Alexandra Park.

The next day they barged into Nkosi’s office at the city hall demanding a meeting. He was not there, so they staged a sit-in.

Senior managers told The Witness that Nkosi had instructed them to get written responses from the workers as to why they weren’t at work and ordered that salaries be docked for hours not worked.

Nkosi said the municipality expected all its workers to do a day’s job and the municipality was expected in turn to remunerate its employees accordingly.

“Therefore, if at any given stage each of the two parties fails to fulfill its part of the agreement it’s only fair that the other party can refuse to honour its part … The municipality will do just that,” he said.

In 2008 Samwu held the city to ransom by shutting off water and electricity for nearly eight hours because it wanted its demands met.

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