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In a joint statement by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) KZN, South African Municipal Union (SAMU) KZN and the South African Communist Party (SACP), it was said that the dismissal of the Newcastle Municipality employees will not be ignored.
The three organisations further pointed out that the issue faced in Newcastle is not an isolated one.
The statement further said that they have discussed the continued plight facing workers dismissed in mass numbers in the Newcastle and Ugu municipalities.
“As things stand, there is uncertainty about the reinstatement of these workers, while everyone grandstands about the need for these workers to be reinstated,” they explained. Furthermore, the statement read that the dismissed employees from the Newcastle Municipality, as well as those at the Ugu Municipality, King Cetshawayo Municipality, and other municipalities, are victims of political factionalism.
“About 400 workers at Newcastle and Ugu municipalities alone have been lingering at home for more than three years now because of narrow political factionalism. This is an untenable situation for workers and the poor people of these municipalities, in particular, in the ANC-led municipalities, all the three parties were resolute that decisive action must be taken to address this plight.”
The organisations are now demanding that the Newcastle Municipality, Ugu Municipality, King Cetshwayo Municipality, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) and provincial government come out and air their political agenda against these workers.
They believe the matter has been unnecessarily delayed by politicians, and they have now resolved to give the MEC of COGTA, Sipho Hlomuka, until the end of this month to reinstate these workers.
“Failing which as these three organisations we shall embark on a rolling mass-action with the affected workers, their families and the public to organize pickets, marches and sit-ins at COGTA offices until these workers are reinstated,” the organisation concluded.
Adding to this, after the newly elected KZN ANC leadership was selected, the former mayor of Newcastle and the newly elected treasurer for the KZN ANC leadership, Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba pointed out that the workers had been fired fairly and dismissed COSATU’s calls to reinstate the former staff.
The Newcastle Municipality was contacted for comment on the potential mass action heading to Newcastle. While the government entity was aware of possible marches and picketing this coming week, the Manager of the Mayor’s Office, Melusi Ndima explained that the Municipality could not provide an official comment on the matter as of yet. This, he pointed out, was largely due to the matter involving the dismissed staff being sub judice, as legal proceedings were still underway.
Nevertheless, KZN COGTA issued a statement regarding the matter, saying that the department is concerned by the threats that have been made by the two unions and the SACP on a matter that is not under the jurisdiction of the department.
“This matter is an employer and employee matter which can best be queried with the relevant municipality. The department and the MEC do not have powers to meddle with labour relations issues within municipalities as it is well regulated. The calls, therefore, that have been made by the two unions and the SACP are misplaced,” affirmed KZN COGTA.
The Department pointed out that additionally, SAMWU and affected municipalities are signatories of the bargaining council, where disputes are to be resolved.
“COGTA is not party to that council, and therefore may not be in a position to get involved. We are committed to facilitating informal engagement platforms as guided by the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal. We’ll continue to provide support to affected municipalities as guided by relevant laws governing this country. We also urge the interested and affected parties to do the same,” said COGTA.
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