Joburg Mu­nic­i­pal­ity with­draws away from SALGA

Jo­han­nes­burg has can­celled R13m an­nual pay­ments to Salga

Inner City Gazette - - News - By Staff Re­porter news@in­

The City of Jo­han­nes­burg Coun­cil has ap­proved the non-pay­ment of sub­scrip­tion fees to the South African Local Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion (SALGA) on ac­count of SALGA’s dere­lic­tion of duty to the City.

SALGA’s man­date is to rep­re­sent the in­ter­ests of all mem­ber local govern­ments, how­ever, re­cent con­duct by the or­gan­i­sa­tion sug­ges­tions that it is po­lit­i­cally aligned at worst or grossly neg­li­gent of its mem­bers at best.

Fol­low­ing the 2016 Local Gov­ern­ment Elec­tions, the coun­try ex­pe­ri­enced a shift in po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship across nu­mer­ous mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, in­clud­ing 3 of the largest met­ros.

The mem­ber­ship struc­ture of SALGA – which af­fords one seat to each mu­nic­i­pal­ity – is how­ever not pro­por­tional to the pop­u­la­tion of each mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Sub­se­quent to the 2016 Elec­tions, the var­i­ous multi-party gov­ern­ment con­fig­u­ra­tions – par­tic­u­larly those in Gaut­eng – en­gaged SALGA re­gard­ing its mem­ber­ship struc­ture in or­der to raise con­cerns re­gard­ing the fact that SALGA lead­er­ship does not re­flect the po­lit­i­cal change stem­ming from the elec­tions.

In­deed, crit­i­cal lead­er­ship roles within the or­gan­i­sa­tion con­sists pre­dom­i­nantly of the in­di­vid­u­als aligned to the ANC.

This has re­sulted in a mis­align­ment be­tween the po­lit­i­cal com­po­si­tion of SALGA, and the po­lit­i­cal com­po­si­tion of its mem­ber mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. This is not the first time these con­cerns have been raised with the or­gan­i­sa­tion. Dis­ap­point­ingly, rep­re­sen­ta­tions made by the City on these mat­ters have fallen on deaf ears. Two ma­jor in­stances are il­lus­tra­tive of this.

SALGA, whose man­date is to rep­re­sent mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties as an im­par­tial Em­ployer’s Or­gan­i­sa­tion, has in­stead be­come a politi­cised struc­ture fail­ing in its obli­ga­tions to­wards the City of Jo­han­nes­burg.

Since 2015, in­ter­nal di­vi­sions within SAMWU have re­sulted in two con­flict­ing fac­tions within the or­gan­i­sa­tion claim­ing to be the le­git­i­mate rep­re­sen­ta­tives of SAMWU. This con­tin­ued con­flict within SAMWU has neg­a­tively af­fected labour re­la­tions in the City and our mu­nic­i­pal en­ti­ties – im­pact­ing neg­a­tively on service de­liv­ery.

It should be noted that the SAMWU dis­pute and fac­tion­al­ism ex­pe­ri­enced lo­cally is not lim­ited to the City of Jo­han­nes­burg, but is prob­lem­atic in the na­tional, provin­cial and most local struc­tures of SAMWU. This is a prob­lem that ef­fects the ma­jor­ity of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and de­mands SALGA’s at­ten­tion.

As a re­sult of the local im­passe re­gard­ing the le­git­i­mate lead­er­ship of SAMWU, the City of Jo­han­nes­burg wrote to SALGA re­quest­ing their guid­ance and in­ter­ven­tion. De­spite their re­spon­si­bil­ity to the City as the Em­ployer’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive, SALGA failed to come to the City’s aid and pro­vide any guid­ance on the mat­ter what­so­ever.

Fol­low­ing SALGA’s fail­ure to in­ter­vene, the City ap­proached the courts – with SALGA as a sec­ond ap­pli­cant – to seek clar­ity from the Court re­gard­ing which SAMWU fac­tion was le­git- imate. This was nec­es­sary as their con­tin­ued in­fight­ing was hav­ing an ad­verse ef­fect on the func­tion­al­ity of the City’s col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing struc­tures.

As a sec­ond ap­pli­cant, the City ex­pected SALGA to sup­port its po­si­tion and file doc­u­ments in sup­port of the City’s ap­pli­ca­tion. This as­sis­tance was not forth­com­ing from SALGA, who failed to file any sup­port­ing doc­u­ments to the City’s ap­pli­ca­tion.

Sub­se­quent to the rul­ing by the Labour Court, the mat­ter was taken on ap­peal to the Labour Ap­peal Court. The City, as well as the re­spon­dents, con­tin­ued fil­ing ei­ther for or against the ap­peal. Through­out this process SALGA re­mained si­lent and dis­in­ter­ested. In the sec­ond in­stance, as of March 2018, SAMWU shop stew­ards and of­fice bear­ers’ terms of of­fice came to an end ren­der­ing the po­si­tions ef­fec­tively va­cant.

In spite of this, SALGA has con­tin­ued to en­gage the pre­vi­ously elected shop stew­ards and of­fice bear­ers through the South African Local Gov­ern­ment Bar­gain­ing Coun­cil (SALGBC), in so do­ing ef­fec­tively un­der­min­ing the elec­tion of new shop stew­ards and of­fice bear­ers.

The con­tin­ued en­gage­ment with the pre­vi­ously elected lead­er­ship is at odds with the demo­cratic prin­ci­ples associated with good gov­er­nance and places the City and SALGA in un­ten­able sit­u­a­tion re­gard­ing labour is­sues.

Fur­ther to this, while SALGA has con­tinue to en­gage with the unions and their de­funct lead­er­ship, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have been kept in the dark on all con­sul­ta­tions and ne­go­ti­a­tions on mat­ters of mu­tual in­ter­est that are con­ducted un­der the aus­pices of the SALGBC.

The ne­go­ti­a­tions re­gard­ing the Wage Curve and the Salaries and Col­lec­tive Agree­ments are a good ex­am­ple of this. Whereas the unions pro­vided reg­u­lar feed­back to their mem­bers, com­mu­ni­ca­tion from SALGA to the City has not been forth­com­ing.

The fail­ure to en­gage the City in good faith, and on an on­go­ing ba­sis, un­der­mines the City’s po­si­tion and gen­er­ally serves to com­prise mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties’ plan­ning pro­cesses.

It is the City’s con­sid­ered view that by un­der­min­ing the role of the City, SALGA is in gross dere­lic­tion of its roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as an Em­ployer’s or­gan­i­sa­tion.

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