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13 July 2012 | Kamalpreet Badasha
The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) has been holding lunch-hour pickets in protest at being excluded from observing Metrobus procurement tenders.
The union wants to be part of the tender procurement committee that monitors tendering processes for the bus operator as it believes contracts are being awarded to companies that do not have the necessary expertise, which has led to Metrobus falling into financial difficulties. For example, a Metrobus employee informed the union that a security company was awarded a contract to provide recruitment services.
The tenders are for contracts for a range of items and services, including spare parts, cleaning, engines and recruitment for Metrobus, which provides public transport in Johannesburg.
The union believes a transparent procurement process would prevent Metrobus’s present financial difficulties. Dion Makhura, regional chairperson for greater Johannesburg, SAMWU, told SM: “Metrobus has said it is to be closed down, but we see buses overladen with passengers. What we wanted to do was observe the tender process to see that it is fair, but Metrobus said ‘no’.”
SAMWU took the matter to the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration, which provided the union with a certificate allowing them to strike. The union decided to participate in lunch-hour pickets at the Metrobus offices in Braamfontein and not to strike because of the company’s financial difficulties.
Gabu Tugwana, group communication director for the City of Johannesburg – which owns Metrobus – said: “The union would not be granted an observer status in tendering processes because there’s no provision for such an agreement between the two parties in documents governing their relationship. Besides this, our tender processes are led by well-experienced and credible leaders with a good track record in what they do.”
He added that if there were any grievance with the tender processes, there is an appeal process available to review decisions that have been made.