Solidarity: SAMWU calls for immediate release of 137 imprisoned municipal workers

Press Statement 7th March 2008 10am

SAMWU calls for immediate release of 137
imprisoned municipal workers

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union demands the immediate release of the 137 Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole strikers who were held in custody overnight, after being shot at.

About 600 workers have gathered once again this morning at Brister House in Port Elizabeth for another day of strike and protest action.

There is no reason why the workers should have been held in prison since their only crime was to take part in a protected strike. SAMWU believes it has grounds for legal action against the Minister of Safety and Security since police opened fire on the workers without any warning and without provocation.

SAMWU condemns the unprovoked action by the police which amounts to abuse of state power by those in authority. The community of Nelson Mandela Baby Metropole is in dire need of service delivery. It is not only the clinics which are in a virtual state of collapse, with only one permanent staff member each and other staff working on insecure month to month contracts. There is no delivery whatsoever of any other service either. This is why not only SAMWU, but the SACP, the civic organisations and the youth organisations all condemn the municipality’s inability or failure to address community needs.

Instead of meeting with the union to solve these problems, the municipality is engaged in the attacks on the union and its leadership by dismissing our leaders and crushing strikes. The leaders are full of arrogance. SAMWU rejects the municipal manager’s statement (Graeme Richards) that the municipality has offered to meet the union but SAMWU refused. The Mayor has consistently refused to meet with us.

We have since raised the matter with the ANC, which is the ruling party, with regard to the behaviour of the Mayor and her executive for intervention. Workers have vowed to continue the strike until all demands are met.

SAMWU also rejects the article in The Herald this morning which is full of lies, including that workers released poison into the municipal admin building. We are taking this up with the newspaper’s ombudsman. If the workers were so violent all day long, then why were they permitted to march to the 2010 stadium without any police presence? The newspaper is clearly just looking for a way to justify the police action against the workers.


For further comment call Siphiwo Ndunyana on 041 5856684 or 078 4040482