Union without recognition plans strike action in eThekwini

Members of Matusa who marched in eThekwini CBD last year are planning another strike demanding better salaries. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/ Independent Newspapers

Members of Matusa who marched in eThekwini CBD last year are planning another strike demanding better salaries. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/ Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 24, 2024


Durban — Although the Municipal and Allied Trade Union of South Africa (Matusa) is not recognised in eThekwini Municipality, the union will soon go ahead with its wage strike.

Matusa’s deputy president Joe Mabaso said the union was consulting its lawyers to make sure that the strike would not lead to the municipality taking disciplinary action against its members.

Although the date of the strike is yet to be announced, Mabaso said the strike would be protected and peaceful.

He said the union has been collecting votes for the past two weeks to determine how many of its approximately 9 000 members supported the strike. He said the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) has already issued the union a certificate to strike.

Mabaso said about 4 600 members had already voted in favour of the strike, but the votes have been taken to the national office for verification.

Mabaso said the fact that only eThekwini did not recognise the union, which was established in 2016, did not prevent it from going on strike.

He said on Monday the union would sit at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to force the eThekwini to grant it its organisational rights, to be allowed to have shop stewards, deduction of its members' subscription fees, and to hold meetings on the city’s premises.

“eThekwini is refusing to grant us those rights. We are a union registered in terms of Labour Relations Act and we are recognised by the CCMA and at the bargaining council we can defend our members. The only problem is that eThekwini does not want to give us recognition,” he said.

He said the union was recognised by municipalities such as Govan Mbeki, and Rustenburg, and by the Water and Sanitation Services South Africa company.

“When we took some of the municipalities to task, others realised that we represent a sufficient number of workers, therefore let us give them recognition,” he said.

Mabaso said whether eThekwini “like it or not” it would have to recognise the strike.

“We do have the certificate to go on strike in terms of the Labour Relations Act. The municipality may say we do not recognise you but in terms of the laws of this country we are recognised.

“Right now they are violating our constitutional rights to freedom of association,” he said.

Matusa was making the same demand as the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) that the city should increase its workers’ salary scale to the level of other metros across the country.

Spokesperson for the eThekwini municipality Gugu Sisilana said: “Union recognition is not determined by eThekwini Municipality, but it is based on the minimum threshold that must be met as determined by the Constitution of the SALGBC.”

Sisilana said there is a formal Bargaining Council structure where all labour matters are discussed.

“The Municipality respects these processes and will continue to engage labour unions through these recognised structures,” she said.

Sunday Tribune