The ANC will not allow trade unions to blackmail it with strike action and threats in the run-up to May’s local government elections, the party’s Gauteng provincial secretary, David Makhura, warned.
“The ANC will not be blackmailed to intervene in labour relations issues in municipalities simply because of a threat that (municipal union) Samwu members will not vote for the movement,” Makhura told journalists in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
The ANC, alliance partner Cosatu and its affiliate, the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), have had a series of meetings since Samwu declared last week it would not campaign for the ANC if a range of demands were not met.
Municipal strikes in metros such as Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane, including a four-week-long strike by Metrobus drivers over changes to shift rosters, have also seen the dismissal of hundreds of workers.
Makhura said the municipal strikes had “become a bargaining strategy of Samwu in the run-up to every election”.
He said that, while the ANC respected the right of these workers to strike, and had asked its mayors not to victimise workers, “workers must respect internal processes of municipalities and not rush to the ANC and the alliance to intervene on labour relations matters”.
Samwu earlier criticised the ANC’s elections manifesto as not addressing workers’ needs, but ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe pointed out that the manifesto had been adopted by all alliance partners, including Cosatu.
Samwu general secretary Mthandeki Nhlapo said the union had met with Cosatu on Monday and that “engagements are still continuing” until at least tomorrow.
He said the meeting with Cosatu was aimed at talks with the ANC to discuss Samwu’s grievances.
“(Samwu and Cosatu) are finalising our approach to meet with the ANC and we hope the issues will be resolved,” Nhlapo said.
He denied the union threatened to withhold votes from the ANC.
“What we said is that it will be impossible to campaign for the ANC if things continued the way they are,” he said.
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi refused to divulge details of the talks with Samwu, saying it was a closed meeting.
He confirmed, however, that Samwu would not “boycott” the elections, nor would its members refuse to vote for the ANC.
“But we are proceeding to address the concerns they have,” he said, adding that many of the meetings were taking place at regional level.
Vavi, however, said he disagreed with Makhura’s assertion that the union’s action was blackmail.
“I don’t think it is about blackmail.
“The issues are genuine and there are concerns about (alliance) relationships that have collapsed,” he said.
Meanwhile, as the DA announced its mayoral candidates for Johannesburg and Tshwane yesterday, Makhura said the ANC in Gauteng was ready for the elections, but would only choose its mayoral contenders later.
Credit to: Independent Online
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