A BITTER feud between Frontier Hospital cleaners contracted under Sbomvana Cleaning Services, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has resulted in a workers’ sit-in entering its third month.
More than 80 cleaners at the hospital decided to down tools on September 15 demanding that management, Satawu and Sbomvana Cleaning Services resolve grievances over their pay.
The Rep reported (“Pay us first” April 29) that workers were unhappy with an alleged lack of payment of their wages.
Workers who spoke to The Rep this week said since their sit-in, the hospital was in a filthy state. They accuse Satawu of not helping them because of their affiliation to the EFF.
One of the workers, Mandla Peter, said Satawu’s provincial organiser, Reuben Solombela, had told them in a meeting that he would only represent workers who are ANC members.
I joined the union in 2013 and they have been deducting money from us. We want our money and our bonuses and someone who will give us answers
“He told us that he would not deal with non-ANC members because Satawu discussed ANC issues,” Peter said. “At the time, we joined we signed a membership form, which did not mention anything about not representing people from other political organisations. “I joined the union in 2013 and they have been deducting money from us. We want our money and our bonuses and someone who will give us answers.”
Solombela hit back, saying the workers had left Satawu. “We are affiliated with Cosatu, our job is to encourage our members to be a part of the other alliance organisations. They came to my offices and I asked them to remove their EFF berets. I am not apologetic about that, they came here with EFF members after we had told them not to bring EFF. The sit-in was never organised or coordinated by Satawu. We were handling this as Satawu with Nehawu and Cosatu but they did not have patience,” he said.
“Now the EFF is failing them dismally because they do not have an alliance with any trade union. I have spoken to the director of the company about this. There are some members of Satawu, who are not involved in this sit-in and they have stayed at home because they were intimidated by their colleagues.”
Bongiwe Ngolo, who is registered as a partner at Sbomvana Cleaning Services refused to comment.
Health Department Spokesman Sizwe Kupelo had not responded at the time of going to print.
The EFF’s Axolile Masiza said they had lodged a complaint with the department of labour and were waiting for certain documents before taking further action.