Samwu workers make history despite labour tension

Samwu chairperson, Pule Moloalenyane, as he addressed Samwu's first class of graduates. PHOTO: RIGOBERT FEUTZING

History was made as members of the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) took to the stage to collect their qualifications despite ongoing labour-related tension with the Mangaung Metro Municipality in Bloemfontein.
“The workers received their qualifications, which are akin to a higher certificate and national diploma and are all recognised by the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA). This is one of the many strides being undertaken by Samwu as an organisation that values the social standing of the worker and prides itself in promoting sustainable upward mobility through education,” said Advocate Lerata Mashee from the Union.
The workers graduated from the union’s first-of-a-kind media centre and college, which was launched on 26 April 2017.
According to Thandokazi Hlwatika, public relations consultant from Plush Panther, an agency employed by Samwu, the idea of having a college for Samwu workers was the brainchild of the union’s current national president, Pule Molalenyane.
“The Union has strategically partnered with the Energy and Water Sector Education Training Authority (EWSETA), Local Government Sector Education and Training (LGCETA) as well as the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in order to ensure that the qualifications are viable and that workers will be given skills that will help absorb and promote them within the workplace. Moreover, the union is in the middle of drafting a memorandum of agreement with the University of the Free State as well,” Molalenyane said.
Hlwatika explained that their educational qualifications offered by the Samwu college are equivalent to a higher certificate and a national diploma.
Among the modules offered are Labour Relations, Labour Law, and Litigation. “Samwu boasts 225 shop stewards who have obtained an NQ level 4 as well as 16 officials who are successfully trained in litigation NG Level 5. With the resources now afforded by the media centre and college, it is beyond any doubt that these numbers will increase significantly,” Hlwatika said. These graduation ceremonies took place at the President Hotel in Bloemfontein on 23 June 2017. – Pulane Choane