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Union slams ‘money man’ mayor

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Samwu is calling for an across the board R2 000 housing allowance, as well as a minimum wage of R10 000

UNHAPPY: Samwu members held a lunchtime picket at the municipal office yesterday. Picture: Soraya Crowie

SOUTH African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) members embarked on a lunchtime picket outside Sol Plaatje Municipality yesterday, where they chastised the executive mayor, Mangaliso Matika, for his “love of money” and insulted management over their “incompetence”.

Workers carried placards reading “f*** off with unethical management” and chanted that Matika, who is also the ANC Frances Baard regional chairperson, is a “money man” as they toyi-toyied outside the entrance of the municipal offices.

Samwu workers complained that the mayor’s secretary’s boyfriend had been appointed as the manager at Riverton Pleasure Resort while there is still an ongoing labour dispute over the former manager’s removal.

“The post was not advertised. The elections are now over and it is payback time, where those who assisted in the campaign to elect the ANC regional leadership must be given jobs. A friend of the mayor has been appointed as a sports co-ordinator.”

The workers also protested over the new electricity tariff structure, which will see city residents paying a flat rate of R260 a month over and above their electricity units

“Where are we expected to fork out this extra money for this self-enrichment scheme? We barely have R260 to pay for electricity for the whole month.”

Local government salary and wage negotiations have deadlocked, with Samwu reverting back to its original demand for a 15 percent across the board increase on a single year agreement, while the offer on the table by the employer is 6.6 percent over the next three years.

Samwu is calling for an across the board R2 000 housing allowance, as well as a minimum wage of R10 000.

“We were told that we are embarking on an illegal picket but we do not need permission to stage a picket. From next week it will develop into a full-blown strike. Workers’ rights are being trampled and members are being intimidated.”

Union members stated that overtime payments for fire brigade workers was outstanding since 2014 and they are also calling for all contract workers to be employed on a permanent basis.

Meanwhile, a local breakaway branch of Samwu, consisting of members who were expelled from the union, issued a letter to the head of traffic, informing him that they distanced themselves from the picket.

On a letter bearing the Samwu logo and letterhead yesterday, A Khoza, who initialled as the local secretary, stated that the picketing was a “misrepresentation of Samwu by the provincial office”.

“We would like to state categorically clear that we, as the local office bearers of Samwu, bear no knowledge of such a gathering as we have never requested for permission to engage in such a picketing.”

Khoza advised that permission for the picket be withdrawn by the municipality.

Spokesperson for Sol Plaatje Municipality, Sello Matsie, stated that the municipality was committed to the implementation of sound and fair labour practices, including the agreement entered into with legitimate unions.

“While we respect the rights of workers, we call for all employees to adhere to the rules and processes regarding pickets and strikes as we continue to engage with the trade union on issues affecting workers through the local labour forums,” said Matsie.

Matsie added that the appointments that were being questioned by union members, related to the appointment of officials who would work on a contract basis for six months in acting positions.