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SAMWU Media Briefing on Constitutional Court Ruling
7 November 2018
The union held its 11th National Congress in August 2015. This Congress ushered in a new era for the union wherein new leadership was elected marching orders were issued by Congress delegates to correct years of dictatorship.
This had resulted in the union being in a state of paralysis and losing thousands of members. Since this leadership was elected, we have been able to reverse this and increased our membership.
Key among the resolutions of the 11th National Congress was the institution of a forensic audit into the financial affairs of the union. This decision was taken after reports emerged that millions were missing from the union's coffers.
This resolution was implemented by Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting of the union wherein a reputable forensic audit firm, Ernst and Young was appointed after considering bids from three forensic audit firms in the country.
The decision to appoint a forensic audit was motivated by the fact that as a worker-controlled organization, our members' money should be protected and that there should be transparency in the manner in which the affairs of the union are run hence the need to audit all provincial and national union accounts.
In appointing the forensic auditor, we made a commitment that should any of the leaders of the union be implicated in any wrong doing, disciplinary and criminal proceedings would be instituted so to ensure that workers' money is recouped and that those responsible should be held accountable. Just as we are always determined to see clean and transparent municipal finances and doing away with corruption, we believe that we should begin by ensuring that our home is clean and corruption free.
Bogus CEC and Litigation
The decision by the union to institute a forensic audit was however not well received by everyone in the union. As we had made a commitment that we will ensure that workers' money is recouped, and that people will be jailed, those who knew that they would be implicated were already running scared and began plans to ensure that the forensic audit is not instituted.
A bogus CEC was therefore convened by those who feared and pre-empted the outcomes of the forensic audit. In their quest to make sure that this does not happen, the entire union leadership was illegally removed in that unconstitutional and mischievously constituted meeting, a meeting which was not inline with Section 9 of the union constitution.
The KZN High Court was approached, the court however ruled their meeting was indeed not constitutional and as such all decisions taken at the bogus CEC were null and void thus confirming union leadership.
The union leadership therefore acted by suspending and dismissing individuals who had brought the union into disrepute with the intension of seeking to ensure that the forensic audit does not happen.
The Labour Court was approached, wherein parties reached an out of court settlement which entailed convening of a CEC which would entertain appeals of suspensions and expulsions. In the interest of unity, a CEC was convened and dealt with these issues.
However, as they saw the result of the CEC unsatisfactory, they approached the Labour Appeal Court enlisting legal heavy weights. They however lost this case and then petitioned the highest court in the land.
The Constitution Court judgment was delivered on the 29th October under the case number CCT 177/18. The Constitutional Court in its wisdom dismissed the application for leave to appeal the Labour Appeal Court judgment delivered earlier this year. The Constitutional Court said that "the application for leave to appeal should be dismissed as it has no prospects of success" essentially laying this matter to rest
This litigation which was supported by the City of Johannesburg and their cabal in wanting to ensure that they use the divide and rule principle against the workforce. It is unfortunate that tax payers' money was once again wasted by the City of Johannesburg in their crusade to systematically eradicate organized labour within the City.
The City of Johannesburg has used this case as a scapegoat for their desire to leave the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and subsequently collapse collective bargaining within the City, arguing that the latter should have intervened whereas the courts had ruled that City of Johannesburg had no locus standi and as such could not interfere in the affairs of organized labour.
The union is vindicated by the ruling. It is however unfortunate that attempts by the City of Johannesburg Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba and his cabal had consequences for our membership wherein the Executive Mayor had decided that he City would be illegally withholding our members' Union subscription fees.
We have it on good authority that the City is in financial trouble and has been illegally using workers' money for operations hence the reluctance by the Executive Mayor to pay-over to SAMWU what was legally due to the union, consequently and deliberately hampering our ability to service our members.
We have therefore instructed our attorneys to immediately write to the City of Johannesburg demanding that all membership subscription fees which were withheld by the employer are immediately paid over to the union with interest.
Failure by the City to pay over what is due to the union will result in us approaching the courts to seek remedy.
On VBS Great Heist Scandal
We once again reiterate that SAMWU has never mortgaged its head office or invested workers' money with VBS. Those who have been expelled from the union should desist from spreading false rumors to this effect. The only facility we have with VBS is that of a loan which is being religiously serviced monthly.
The Great Heist Report as released by Motau SC, does not mention SAMWU and as such it is only those with ulterior and mischievous motives who would want to drag the union into things which it was not involved in.
People should not seek attention by lying, we also want to state categorically clear that we respect the internal processes of the African National Congress in dealing with the matter and as such we will await its logical conclusion.
Our members should be aware of the propaganda which its attention is to destabilize the SAMWU so workers in municipalities can be exposed and vulnerable.
We therefore consider this matter closed and as such will be on the ground properly communicating it to our members who were deliberately misinformed in an attempt to capture the union for ulterior motives. As things stand, the union is led by a collective which consists of Pule Molalenyane as its President, John Dlamini as Deputy President, Simon Mathe as the General Secretary and Moses Miya as the Deputy General Secretary.
It is really unfortunate that we've had to spend the last two years litigating instead of channeling our energies towards the emancipation of municipal workers in the country. Ours is now to channel our energy and resources towards the servicing, recruiting and retaining municipal workers in the fold of SAMWU particularly given the onslaught which municipal workers are facing in the hands of the employer.
The country's municipalities are in a state of paralysis, with the Auditor General indicating that only 7% of the country's municipalities are considered functional. A lot of municipalities are failing on fulfilling their financial obligations including payments of workers' salaries on time while third parties such as medical aid and pensions are months in arrears.
We will be working hard to ensure National and Provincial GOGTA departments intervene in municipalities which are failing on their financial obligations towards workers. It can't be that workers are punished for financial decisions which they were not party to making.
We have also noticed that municipalities have intensified their campaign of rendering municipal services through the use of Extended Public Works Programmes (EPWP). This has resulted in municipalities neglecting to fill vacancies because EPWP programmes are used as providers of cheap labour.
We are continue to be convinced that EPWP programmes are exploitative in nature and that participants are rendering municipal services and as such they should be employed permanently and directly by municipalities. We have also noted with great shock and disappointment that the Department of Labour has revised determination of EPWP participants by increasing their salaries by a mere R4 a day.
We will therefore be intensifying our campaign to demand the absorption of EPWP participants by municipalities. We will also be, in the interest of service delivery be demanding that all municipalities fill vacancies so to ensure that municipalities are fully capacitated to deliver services to residents.
Lastly, we are in the process of concluding negotiations around Wage Curve and the pension fund restricting in the Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC). We are of the view that once concluded, the implementation of the Wage Curve will put our members at a better financial position. The pension fund restructuring agreement will allow for a more coherent pension fund regime for all municipal workers.
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat
Simon Mathe, General Secretary, (079 889 8389) or Papikie Mohale, National Media Officer, (073 710 0356)