Thirty-Six Buffalo City Metro workers are facing dismissal after storming into a union meeting clad in United Front T-shirts.
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) members allegedly stormed into the meeting held at the Orient Theatre two weeks ago where union leaders were debriefing general membership on the developments of this year’s wage negotiations.
Samwu branch secretary Zolani Ndlela said the group not only disrupted an important meeting against union rules‚ “but they were also wearing T-shirts which were unacceptable to the union”.
The T-shirts were those of the United Front – a civic movement which is the brainchild of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa). Cosatu‚ of which Samwu remains an affiliate‚ expelled Numsa last year.
Ndlela said wearing such T-shirts in a Samwu meeting was clear defiance and those implicated “will have to explain why they acted in such a manner”.
Ndlela confirmed on Wednesday that the 36 union members had been served with letters last week.
“In those letters all we are asking for is for each individual to come and explain why they disrupted the meeting.
“At this stage we are not saying we are charging them or suspending their membership. We want to give them a hearing‚ so we can chart a way forward‚” said Ndlela.
The incident happened while Samwu BCM is highly divided following a Daily Dispatch exposé which revealed several Samwu shop stewards were seconded to senior positions which saw some of their salaries increase by more than 300%. Ndlela is among those beneficiaries.
A month ago‚ more than 300 disgruntled Samwu members petitioned the BCM Speaker Luleka Simon-Ndzele‚ asking the council to consider investigating the reports of salary increases for Samwu leaders.
The report has not been discussed in council yet.
Ndlela said the investigation was not a witch-hunt but aimed at instilling discipline in the union.
“The rules are: when someone joins an organisation‚ you give away your independence voluntarily and you accept you are going to play the rules according to the policies of that organisation. We want to instil discipline‚ that is why we had to take such action‚” said Ndlela.
None of those affected were willing to discuss the case‚ saying they do not want to preempt the outcome of the hearings whose dates are yet to be finalised.