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SAMWU 2016 Reflection and Year End Message

  • Friday, 23 December 2016 08:21
23 December 2016

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) National Office Bearers (NOBs) on behalf of 160 000 members takes this opportunity to send South Africans and in particular our members festive greetings. In doing this we should reflect on the year that 2016 has been and how we plan on ensuring that 2017 becomes a great year for SAMWU and all its members.
We began the year on a bumpy ride following an attempted coups d’etat wherein certain individuals were preparing themselves for a hostile takeover of the union’s leadership by calling a bogus CEC meeting. We are however happy to report that the courts have since ruled that there is no reasonable doubt to question the legitimacy of the unions’s leadership following their election at our 11th National Congress and subsequent CECs.

The courts have ruled that their bogus CEC was unconstitutional and illegal and as such all decisions which were taken are null and void as their meeting was not convened with respect to clause 9.1 and 9.2 of the union’s constitution. This affirmation and confirmation of the union leadership will allow us to steer the union into the great defender of municipal workers which everyone knows SAMWU to be.

Attempts to silence and destabilize the union have come in many forms and have all failed. There are those who even went to extreme measures of conniving to liquidate but they too have failed just as all prophets of doom.

2016 has in deed been an eventful year, not only for us, but the country as a whole. The greatest highlight of this year in our sector is undoubtedly the local government elections held on the 3rd August. As SAMWU we had taken a conscious decision that we would unapologetically and unreservedly support the ANC. We did our best to ensure that the ANC wins as many municipalities as possible.

We are indeed disappointed at the performance of the ANC in these elections which have resulted in a loss of several municipalities including key metros such as Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg through the unholy alliance between the DA and the EFF. We believe that these results are an indication of the state of paralysis and unresponsiveness that the ANC finds itself and as such requires great introspection and self correction otherwise political power will be lost to the enemy come 2019 general elections.

The surprising parachuting of the DA into a number of municipalities has exposed the party to what it is- a neoliberal party which has no interest in the working class and the poor. Immediately after their ascension into power through coalition governments, the DA Federal Executive came up with ill-conceived plans of streamlining municipalities they governed. Their plan included retrenching staff particularly in the Capital Tshwane in essence it meant that they wanted black workers to loose their jobs so that their families can go to bed hungry daily.

The treat of retrenchment was followed by that of privatizing municipal entities in particular Pikitup. Based on our resolutions and ideological backing, we rejected this attempt to privatize municipal services and we will continue to oppose and reject any attempt to privatize the delivery of municipal services as we are aware of the grave consequences that come with privatization. We remain convinced that municipal services should be rendered by people employed permanently and directly by municipalities.

We are convinced that we have not seen the last of the DA’s systematic onslaught against municipal workers as we had seen this year, particularly with their attempt to collapse collective bargaining through the withdrawal from the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) by DA run municipalities.

Again, this would have had dire and detrimental consequences for workers as they would no longer be covered by agreements entered into at the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) and as such would have been a deliberate attempt to collapse not only SALGA and the SALGBC but collective bargaining as a whole for workers in our sector.

It is unfortunate and disappointing that not only do we have to fight a class enemy in the form of the DA but that we also have to fight our very own. Developments coming out of Ekurhuleni and Msukalinga Local Municipality have been discouraging and disgusting to say the least. We will not allow the union to be weakened so that people can have a free for all in municipalities. It is for this reason that we will be challenging the illegal suspensions by the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality and the Msukalinga Local Municipality.

Our members take center stage in all we do, we always strive to ensure that the service to give to our members is of quality and that the union contributes to their personal development. We are therefore pleased to report that we have began with the first phase of Train the Trainer programme and will be rolling it out to provinces in the coming year.

Our Head Offices have also been renovated to allow us to house the SAMWU College which we will officially be opening next year. We want to see our members not stagnating in the same positions for decades hence we believe that this will enable them to better their lives through education.

In the coming year, we will be ensuring that we increase our visibility to members. We do not believe that leaders are elected to warm chairs in their offices. We will therefore be continuing with our listening campaign as we did this year wherein we visited regions and locals listening to the issues that face our members on a daily basis.

As we will be celebrating our 30th anniversary next year, we want all municipal workers to be part of this historic achievement. We will therefore we announcing events that we will be having throughout the whole of next year which also includes the launch of our History Project.

2017 promises to be a year of great things ahead for SAMWU and our members. We therefore do not want to leave out any municipal worker in the cold and as such will be embarking on massive recruitment drives so that all municipal workers can be defended and protected by the militant SAMWU that we envisage it to be.

As we end the year, we invite all members and municipal workers to be part of the vision that we have for this union and local governance in general. It has in deed been a long and eventful year, we should thank all members who have remained true, committed and loyal to SAMWU even during trying and testing times.

We also thank municipal workers for the great work that they have been doing throughout the year in ensuring that South Africans receive the provision of quality services without fail. Let us go rest, recuperate and come back ready to advance the working class struggle. We will also need this energy to fight our class enemies who have definitely waged war against workers and their interests.

We therefore wish our members and South Africans in general a safe festive season and to our members who will still be on duty particularly those in emergency services, we urge them to be extra cautious. Let us come back revived and ready to take SAMWU forward. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Issued by SAMWU National Office Bearers