Municipal workers union demand

SAMWU General Secretary, Koena Ramotlou / Image via Twitter

Municipal workers union demands R3 000 ‘danger allowance’

The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) has vowed to fight for the R3 000 “danger allowance” for its members who worked during the national lockdown

Municipal workers union demand

SAMWU General Secretary, Koena Ramotlou / Image via Twitter

With sixty-three of its members having lost their bouts to the COVID-19 pandemic, the South African Municipal Workers (SAMWU), is now demanding government to pay its members a “danger allowance” of R3 000.

The union took this decision on Friday 10 July, during a special national executive meeting which was held virtually.

In a statement released on Monday 13 July, the union’s general-secretary, Koena Ramatlou, urged municipal employees not to place their livelihoods in harm’s way.   

 “Mostly 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” said Ramatlou.


Ramatlou accused the South Africa Local Government Association (SALGA) of “blackmailing” them.

 “SALGA has indicated that they will only entertain the covid-19 allowance if workers forgo their salary increases,” said Ramatlou.

Furious, he said: “We will not allow SALGA into blackmailing us on this issue, particularly given the fact that municipal workers are on a daily basis being intentionally exposed to the virus by their employers who are supposed to be guaranteeing their health and safety.”

Municipal workers, he said, should not willingly enter “slaughterhouses”, a term he used to describe the workplaces as COVID-19 continued to wreak havoc in South Africa and the world over.


On its members who died as a result of COVID-19, the union said: “The NEC sent its heartfelt condolences to the families, colleagues and friends of the fallen municipal workers. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during these difficult times.”


The union also expressed concerns at the bleak municipal audit outcomes painted by the auditor-general, Kimi Makwetu, in his recent report.

“These outcomes paint a bleak future for municipalities, a consequence of which would be failure to continue delivering services to residents unless corrective measures are immediately taken,” read the union’s statement.

Of the country’s 257 municipalities, only 21 managed to achieve a clean bill of financial health.

Makwetu announced that fruitless and wasteful expenditure increased to R4.6 billion, while irregular expenditure rose to over R32.6 billion. R360 million could not be accounted for as there was insufficient and missing documentation.

This also raised the ire of the union which called for those who are implicated to be brought to book.

“It is for this reason that the union demands that all those responsible for the waste, looting and corruption being personally held accountable and liable, these monies should be recouped through the involvement of the Asset Forfeiture Unit and the Special Investigation Unit,” elaborated the statement.


Also a bone of contention for the union was the ongoing salary negotiations with SALGA which have deadlocked.  

According to the union, SALGA presented the following options:

  • That there should be a total freeze of the salary increases to be effected as from 1 July 2020;
  • That all employees as per salary and wage agreement to receive an increase of 3.25% as from the 1 July 2020 and a further increase of 3% as from the 1 January 2021;
  • The implementation of the salary and wage increases be deferred to 1 January 2021; and
  • That should the labour parties be prepared to consider at least one of the above proposals, SALGA will in turn be willing to consider trade union demands on Covid-19 incentives as proposed for frontline workers.

The union said it viewed the proposal as a declaration of a war.

“(This is a) war which we are ready to fight right to the end in defending the salary and wage collective agreement which is legally and contractually due to municipal workers,” said the union.