Kouga Municipality has yet again consulted with striking municipal employees in a bid to find a speedy resolution to the ongoing and illegal strike by SAMWU members to no avail.
According to Kouga Executive Mayor, Horatio Hendricks, the employees, who first embarked on an illegal strike from 9 to 16 March and again from 31 March, after a Court Interdict preventing them from striking, are demanding that the 14 SAMWU shop stewards that were suspended after the strike, be reinstated with immediate effect.
These shop stewards were found guilty of misconduct after an internal collective disciplinary process and have been given 10 days to submit reasons why they should not be dismissed.
“They, furthermore, insist that all no-work-no-pay remuneration be returned, striking employees not be subjected to disciplinary action and that they are paid a COVID-19 Allowance,” said Hendricks.
“Their insistence on having COVID-19 benefits that have not yet been decided on at a national level and subsequent actions, is unreasonable, irrational and unlawful.”
According to Hendricks, the municipality engaged with SAMWU shop stewards at the beginning of March and agreed that a formal process to resolve the matter, be followed.
“SAMWU leaders then entered into a Settle Agreement with the municipality – that they will not strike on the matter of COVID-19 Allowance until the matter was resolved at the CCMA.
“The CCMA, after considering the matter, transferred it to the National Bargaining Council (SALGBC).
“The Secretary of SAMWU was clearly advised by the municipality that the matter will be dealt with by the National Bargaining Council and that the settlement agreement, which prevented SAMWU from striking on the matter, remains intact.”
Hendricks said that, therefore, any decision to strike on the matter, will constitute an illegal and unlawful strike and will be in defiance of the said settlement agreement.
“On March 17, SALGBC issued a circular in which they confirmed that the issue of COVID-19 Allowance is a matter of National Bargaining and that LLF’s (Local Labour Forums) cannot consult or negotiate on it,” he said.
“Despite shop stewards being aware of the circular and the interim interdict, they have still misled SAMWU members to strike.”
Hendricks said, “The municipality will continue with the legal processes against the 14 suspended SAMWU shop stewards who have been charged with gross misconduct, as well as the few SAMWU members who are participating in the ongoing strike,” said Hendricks.
“It is, however, important to note that most municipal employees are working. It is only a small unruly faction of politically aligned SAMWU-members who are behind the intent to make the municipality ungovernable.”
According to Hendricks, alternative arrangements are in place to ensure that residents are not adversely affected by the ongoing strike, and that service delivery continues.