Rand Water, Samwu set to head back to negotiating table to stave off strike

Ernest Mabuza Journalist
Protesting Rand Water employees last week. Rand Water is set to meet the South African Municipal Workers' Union on Friday to resolve the dispute on incentive bonuses, the union says.
Protesting Rand Water employees last week. Rand Water is set to meet the South African Municipal Workers' Union on Friday to resolve the dispute on incentive bonuses, the union says.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) has issued a certificate of non-resolution in a dispute between Rand Water and the SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu).

The matter was sent to CCMA for conciliation on Wednesday after the union expressed concerns after Rand Water issued a circular informing employees about the removal of the incentive bonuses for employees.

Last week, the union decided to embark on a strike after the decision by the employer. But Rand Water went to the labour court to interdict the strike.

An agreement, which was made an order of the court, was reached last Wednesday whereby Rand Water withdrew the circular and for the dispute to be referred to the CCMA for conciliation on April 28. The union also suspended the strike action.

Samwu Gauteng provincial secretary Bafana Zungu said at the CCMA meeting on Wednesday that Rand Water management was not prepared to resolve the issue.

Zungu said Rand Water asked that the matter be referred to arbitration.

“The kind of referral to the CCMA does not provide for referral of the next step. Either we resolve the matter or the commission issues a certificate of non-resolution,” he said.

Zungu said the commissioner thereafter issued a certificate of non-resolution.

Late on Wednesday night, the union received a letter from Rand Water inviting the union to a meeting on Friday morning.

The issuing of the CCMA certificate means the union can serve the employer with a notice of an indefinite strike.

“What we are protecting here — we are not putting any demand — we are being provoked as a trade union by an employer taking away the incentive bonuses.”

Rand Water's general manager of communications and stakeholder relations, Teboho Joala, said after the CCMA meeting on Wednesday, the union has the right to go on strike.

“We are continuing to engage with stakeholders to avert this situation.

“We hope to reach a an amicable solution on the dispute. There are engagements that are taking place,” he said.

Joala said Rand Water was also introducing its strike management plan to address the protocols of what needs to happen should there be a strike.

“We are an essential service provider. The union and everybody else know that all employees categorised as essential workers must report for duty. We want to assure customers that taps will not run dry.”

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