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Labour Dept praised for tackling Samwu, other unions under Labour Relations Act

The Labour Registrar has filed papers requesting permission to have Samwu taken over by an administrator over a series of financial failures dating back to 2012.

FILE: South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) members at a protest. Picture: Samwu Facebook page

JOHANNESBURG - The Labour Department has been commended for acting against trade unions and employers’ association that does not comply with the Labour Relations Act.

The Labour Registrar has filed papers requesting permission to have the South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) taken over by an administrator over a series of financial failures dating back to 2012.

This includes a questionable loan amounting to R12 million, which the union received from the now-defunct VBS Mutual Bank.

Labour consultant Tony Healy says the application to have Samwu placed under administration spells good news for the health of the country’s trade unions, which have been dogged by a lack of financial accountability for years.

“Historically, the Department of Labour has been slow to follow up on trade unions, whose finance are not in order, and are not submitting financial accounts. Samwu is not the only union. We’re guilty of this over the years. It’s nice to see, at last, the Department of Labour taking the circumstances seriously and taking action.”

The union has been dogged by scandal over the misappropriation of union funds for several years, with some of its leaders arrested over missing funds which amount to R136 million.

Clashes among its current and former leaders over the control of the union have also seen its membership dwindle over the years, with disgruntled members opting to form splinter unions.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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