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SAMWU Condemns Ekurhuleni’s Compromise of Service Delivery

  • Monday, 20 February 2017 13:54
20 February 2017

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) has learnt with disappointment at the recent developments at the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality’s (EMM) deliberate attempt to compromise service delivery to the Citizens of the City.
The City under the mayor Mzandile Masina announced that over 170 vacancies would be frozen following allegations of overtime abuse. Instead of taking measures to curb this alleged abuse, the EMM responded by freezing these posts which we firmly believe will result in the compromise of service delivery in the waste removal department.

The EMM claims that they have taken this decision in line with National Treasury’s directive to municipalities to implement cost cutting measures. We are however of the view that cost cutting measures should in no way compromise the quality of services to citizens, in particular the poor who have no alternative but to rely on the provisions by the EMM. To also suggest that the freezing of these posts will result in a reduction of overtime claims by employees is preposterous to say the least.

Current employees are already overstretched as a result of the municipality’s refusal to fill these vacancies further expanded by the illegal and unlawful charges and suspensions that have been brought by the EMM against SAMWU shopstewards and members who have been directly and systematically targeted for reasons only known by the City.

The EMM is constantly being run as though it belongs to an individual instead of it being an entity of all who live in it. We have noted decisions which have been taken without following due processes and also consulting with organized labour such as the decision to convert day shifts into night shits. We are however glad that the South African Local Bargaining Council has ruled that night shifts imposed on workers who are paid a mere R175 as night shit is invalid as there has been no agreements between labour and the City in the Local Labour Forum.

There would be no need for workers to be required to work overtime if the EMM had done the right thing and filled vacancies long ago. In essence, this is as a result of the municipality’s own doings and as such they cannot expect anyone to cry with them. The municipality should therefore fill these vacancies and purchase equipment for workers in the interest of strengthening service delivery. Workers last received equipment in 2015 yet they are expected to strengthen service delivery.

Before being workers, we are residents of our communities and as such we too would want to see improvement in service delivery. We are however surprised that the mayor continues to involve himself in administrative processes which to us is a clear indication that there is no management in the municipality and blaming workers as scapegoats for lack of administrative and political leadership. This while senior managers who fail to transform the department and standardization of operations are protected.

We suspect that in freezing the posts, the EMM will be using Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) for the delivery of services. Should this be the case, we will vehemently take the municipality head-on as this would be seen as an attempt to collapse service delivery in the EMM as municipal workers are better equipped to deliver services.

SAMWU will not allow the municipality to systematically collapse bargaining power of workers by increasing the number of EPWP participants, participants who are deliberately exploited by receiving slave wages and no job security. These participants are further not in a position to join unions as these as they are recycled and never appointed when opportunities arises within municipalities. We firmly believe that EPWP is slavery of a special kind and as such has no place in the delivery of services in municpalities.

We hold a firm view that the function of delivering services should be done by people who are directly and permanently employed by municipalities. This is also backed up by our 11th National Congress that we should campaign and demand the permanent employment of EPWP participants by municipalities as we consider them to be municipal workers rendering municipal services.

We are further convinced that these cost cutting measures are meant to increase privatization of waste removal through the back door for politically connected individuals in the City. As we speak, over 60% of work has been outsourced to private ownership by the municipality. These includes Germiston, Alberton, Thembisa, Spruitview, Daveyton, Etwatwa and Tshakane which have been handed on a silver plater for private businesses.

It therefore makes one wonder how the municipality can continue with freezing vacancies while there are private contractors doing work for the municipality. These contractors are responsible and continually milk the municipality of resources while they underpay their employees and charging EMM exorbitant about, money which could have been redirected to ensuring that people are permanently employed by the municipality.

Guided by our constitution, principles and congress resolutions, that we would oppose the privatization of municipal services, its high time that we take a tough stance against the EMM for prioritizing tenderpreneur at the expense of municipal workers, the exploited people who are employed by these tenderpreneur and most importantly compromising service delivery for the citizens of EMM.

We therefore demand that the EMM immediately lift this irrational freeze that they have imposed on the municipality particularly given the high and unacceptable levels of unemployment in the City and the country. It is these type of actions that will result in the country not being able to achieve its goals of reducing unemployment, poverty and inequality in the country.

We also demand an immediate cease of the privatization of the delivery of services within the EMM. SAMWU further demands the remunicipalisation of services, not only limited to waste removal but all services delivered by the City. It can’t be correct that the municipality claims it wants to cut costs while majority of its work is outsourced

The people of Ekurhuleni should not be denied of quality services as a result of mere allegations which could be dealt with internally and putting in place measures such as filling of vacancies. We therefore call on the ANC to urgently intervene in the EMM unless they have intentions of letting the municipality slip right under their noses as we have seen with other Metros in the province following the August 2016 Local Government Elections.

Issued by SAMWU Ekurhuleni Region

Thokozani Nkosi

Region Secretary

073 129 0201