Unions must watch out

The conclusion of the tribunal investigating allegations made by the South African Municipal Workers' Union against Johannesburg Metro Police chief Chris Ngcobo is instructive.

The conclusion of the tribunal investigating allegations made by the South African Municipal Workers' Union against Johannesburg Metro Police chief Chris Ngcobo is instructive.

To start with, the union was slow in bringing forward the evidence it said it had against Ngcobo. When the hearing got under way it turned out that none of the 12 allegations made by Samwu saw the light of day.

Ngcobo is obviously happy at being exonerated, while Samwu is foaming at the mouth. The union alleges that the tribunal was not properly constituted because it was done by a law firm that does work for the Johannesburg council.

It is a classic case of sour grapes. Samwu knew from the outset who was investigating. If it had problems it ought to have raised them then.

Samwu seems dissatisfied that it cost its members at least a week's wage, in all probabilities defamed Ngcobo and caused the people of Johannesburg unnecessary hassles with the blockade that ensued as a result of their going on strike.

Now they say that they are not done with Ngcobo.

It is hard to take them seriously.

It is inevitable that any workplace will from time to time experience industrial unrest. Union leaders are not postmen whose only responsibility is to simply pass messages from workers to management.

They should lead. They should tell their members that they are not the first to detest their boss but could easily become the first to be hauled before a court for defamation unless they have something tangible with which to back up to their allegations.

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