The South African Municipal Workers (SAMWU), is now demanding the government to pay its members a “danger allowance” of R3 000 after 63 of its members succumbed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday, SAMWU held a virtual Special National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.
The union said in a statement on Monday that it stands by its demand for a danger allowance of a minimum of R3000 which should be paid to all municipal workers who were on duty for the duration of the lockdown.
“For purposes of clarity, we will henceforth call this demand a COVID-19 allowance,” union’s general-secretary, Koena Ramatlou, said.
Some municipal workers have unfortunately passed away before this matter can even be resolved.
The union currently has 4571 members that have been confirmed as positive.
“We are therefore forging ahead with this demand which should be paid to municipal workers for the duration of the lockdown,” said Ramatlou.
On COVID-19 update
The statement said SAMWU NEC is gravely concerned at the continued number of infections and deaths amongst municipal workers. With close to 5 000 cases, local government leads all sectors of government in terms of infections.
“These numbers are a reflection of the challenges faced by municipal workers on a daily basis and how government has neglected this sphere of government, one that is closest to people and in the coalface of service delivery,” added Ramatlou.
The meeting reiterated earlier calls by the union that there should be greater compliance in municipalities as far as the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the lockdown regulations are concerned.
“The health and safety of municipal workers cannot be negotiated, it remains the responsibility of municipalities to ensure that municipal workers are properly protected in the workplace for the safe execution of their duties.
“It is for this reason that we plead with all municipal workers to not enter the workplace if they have not been provided with the necessary PPE and where their health and safety cannot be guaranteed. Service delivery should not come at the expense of the lives of municipal workers and those of their families.”
Ramatlou said the union was convinced that the increase in positive cases is as a result of the failure by municipalities to properly protect workers.
“The NEC, therefore, resolved that the Department of Labour and Employment should be roped in when the union conducts oversight visits.
“Most importantly though, workers should simply refuse to work when it is not safe to do so, these are provisions made by the Department of Labour and Employment. Workers should not willingly enter slaughterhouses.”