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SAMWU loses court case against Kouga Municipality

Kouga Municipality’s case against SAMWU was heard in the Labour Court in Port Elizabeth yesterday (April 30).

The court needed to give judgement on whether the interim Labour Court interdict obtained against striking workers on March 16, which declared the SAMWU led strike unlawful and illegal, be made a permanent order of the court.

The following judgement has been made by the Labour Court:

1. SAMWU is interdicted and restrained from striking in terms of the COVID-19 allowance.
2. SAMWU has been ordered to pay punitive costs, thus it means they must pay all attorney and client costs of the municipality.

The judge delivered a scathing judgement with regards to the actions of the SAMWU shop stewards, including that the SAMWU shop stewards were very well aware they could not strike and the agreement they had with the municipality upon which they agreed not to strike is devoid of any legal jargon or ambiguity.

According to the judge, it is highly improbable that SAMWU, a trade union of long-standing and a trade union steeped in dispute resolution processes, can hide behind a veil of ignorance.

The judge further stated that SAMWU showed flagrant disregard of an existing court order.

The judge also stated that the violent actions of SAMWU did not go unnoticed by the court, and it is unbecoming of a union to not have control over its members when exercising the right to strike – a right which was hard-fought for pre-1994, and a right which has totally been disregarded by the SAMWU shop stewards.

The judge further said that the SAMWU shop stewards clearly lack leadership and blatantly misled their members.

Kouga Mayor, Horatio Hendricks, said, “The court ruling is a vote of confidence in the legal processes followed by the municipality.

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“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 participated in the ongoing strike.”

Hendricks said that although the municipality welcomes the ruling of the Labour Court in Port Elizabeth, it is not a time to gloat about the victory as there is no winners in the outcome of today.

“People’s livelihoods were affected and will still be affected in the aftermath of the unlawful strike. We need to take stock of all losses, clean up our acts and move forward towards service excellence,” he said. “Hopefully, valuable lessons are learned.

“However, what stands out most is that ill-discipline and unlawfulness will not be tolerated in the municipality.”

According to Hendricks, the municipality hopes to rebuild the very good working relationship they had with SAMWU.

“We thank residents for their patience in this very difficult period,” he said. “Our single-most commitment remains to serve residents to the best of our ability – putting service delivery first.

“Let us make Kouga the best run municipality in the country.”

Photo: While strikers destroyed infrastructure, the DA led Council continued to work hard to improve service delivery in the Municipality.

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