SAMWU and Matjhabeng Local Municipality negotiations

News24 reports that a stalemate between municipal workers and management has reached crisis proportions, with management rejecting a hard-negotiated settlement. The workers declared they stand united and will fight until the end. They state they will also withhold their vote on 29 May unless Thaduxolo Khalipha is removed as executive mayor of the Matjhabeng Local Municipality. The end to the seven-week municipal strike had scarcely begun when on Tuesday, 12 March, the senior management in the municipality rejected an agreement that had been negotiated at high levels since last week.

The high-ranking officials of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), and the Matjhabeng Local Municipality, tasked by Minister Thembi Nkadimeng and Deputy Minister Parks Tau, met as part of the Matjhabeng Local Labour Forum from Wednesday, 6 March, to resolve the key issues highlighted in the memorandum. Amongst them was the resolution that the municipality must pay the outstanding salaries before Friday, 8 March, so that Samwu could suspend the strike for a month, pending the redress of the matters on the table.

The parties agreed that an agreement will be signed, with municipal management, which will then be presented to the members to suspend the strike. The agreement could not be signed because the Matjhabeng delegation led by members of the mayoral committee could not commit on the payment of outstanding salaries. They cited the mayoral committee’s resolution on “no work, no pay”. Samwu argued that the mayor committee does not have the powers to resolve any matters, only council. They also raised the lock-out notice issued by the municipal manager, Adv. Lonwabo Ngqoqo, prohibiting Samwu members from entering the premises for the duration of the strike – despite this being a legal strike. The workers are adamant that the mayor is deliberately frustrating the processes to ensure that no agreement is reached and salaries are not paid again. They allege he is pulling the strings behind the scenes in the absence of the municipal manager, who is on sick leave. This, they say, is to break down the employees’ spirit and sabotage the strike.

Both the minister and MEC of Cogta have deployed investigation teams to probe allegations of corruption, the illegal appointments of officials being amongst them. Nkadimeng has committed to address the employees about progress in their investigation before the end of this week. Jakes Jooste of the Matjhabeng Business Forum and the Matjhabeng Community Forum, says a full-blown rates boycott will be launched if there is not an immediate return to normalcy and service delivery. “This municipality is in a turmoil and a rates boycott will be the tipping point to total disaster.”

by Marti Will

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *