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Row over union fee deductions

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“The National Treasury has also been requested to terminate the stop order facilities that have been unduly extended to the above-mentioned unions,”

A SA FEDERATION of Trade Unions (Saftu) affiliate, the SA Liberated Public Sector Workers’ Union (Salipswu), has threatened to challenge plans to stop unrecognised public sector unions from receiving subscription fees from civil servants.

Public service and administration director-general Professor Richard Levin told his colleagues nationally and provincially that 10 unions were not registered in terms of Section 13 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA).

In correspondence dated December 20, Levin said the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) had informed his department that there were unions receiving subscriptions from public servants despite not being recognised by the PSCBC in terms of a 2017 resolution.

The LRA allows employees who are members of a representative trade union to authorise an employer in writing to deduct subscriptions or levies payable to the trade union from the employee’s wages.

Employees can also revoke the authorisation at a month’s written notice.

“The National Treasury has also been requested to terminate the stop order facilities that have been unduly extended to the above-mentioned unions,” Levin stated.

According to Levin, the unions in question were not awarded rights to deduct membership subscriptions, and departments have been instructed to immediately revoke the rights awarded to these unions.

It is believed the unions include Cosatu affiliate the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) and Salipswu, which was established by former SA Democratic Teachers’ Union president Thobile Ntola and other ex-Cosatu leaders.

Salipswu was registered with the labour relations registrar in October 2015 after Ntola fell out with other leaders in the Cosatu teachers’ union affiliate.

Salipswu president Jacob Molefe told Independent Media on Tuesday that the information provided by Levin was “c*** and nonsense”, and that the union has followed the law, proper processes and obtained a Persal code to allow it to deduct subscription fees from its members’ salaries.

Molefe maintained that this formed part of tactics aimed at frustrating Salipswu, which is mostly made up of public servants who abandoned Cosatu unions and joined Saftu a few years ago, after the country’s largest federation imploded.

“We’ve referred disputes in this regard to the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) and reported the matter to the federation (Saftu),” he said.

He added that Salipswu would have no choice but to refer the matter to the courts.

Samwu, Imatu, Salipswu and the SA ABET Educations Union are among the registered unions enjoying organisational rights without being recognised by the PSCBC.