Samwu and Ekurhuleni spat rages on
THE South African Municipal Workers Union and Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality are set for a fresh episode in their battle over seven shop stewards who were fired for disrupting proceedings of a council meeting last year.
This is after an arbitrator at the local government bargaining council recommended the reinstatement of the two shop stewards - William Kekana and Thabile Malindi - while upholding the council decision to fire the other five.
Those who were not reinstated are Koena Ramotlou, Jeanette Mokone, Winnie Skosana, Stephen Ntuli and Takalane Nkhumeleni.
Samwu spokesman Tahir Sema said yesterday that the union believed the council had influenced the arbitrator to make a ruling that sought to divide the union.
Sema said that while Samwu was analysing the outcome of the arbitration, it was prepared to fight for the reinstatement of all the shop stewards.
"We cannot rule out the possibility that the Ekurhuleni council had an influence on the arbitrator not to reinstate the other shop stewards.
"We believe the real reason for their firing was because they had raised issues against corruption.
"This led to the investigation and arrest of people, including council employees.
"We believe their firing was based on narrow political interests. We are following all legal and political avenues in following the matter, but we cannot rule out the possibility of a strike if all else fails," Sema said.
He insisted that their members had disrupted the council meeting because of frustration. "The council did not want to listen to our members when they raised issues against corruption. They disrupted the sitting out of frustration," he said.
On the other hand, the council has maintained that it would uphold the ruling of the arbitrator.
Ekurhuleni mayor's spokesman Zweli Dlamini said: "We respect the outcome of the arbitrator and we will honour it. The issue was not about proving a point on who was right or wrong, but principle. We want mutual respect and co-existence between the union and the employer."
Following an investigation ordered after the shop stewards were fired, executive director at the council's IT department, Nalesh Sigh, and relatives were arrested after it emerged that a department tender worth R21.8-million was fraudulently awarded to his relative's company.
They have since appeared in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court on charges of fraud.