Hundreds of Tshwane employees, mainly metro police officers, affiliated to the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) took to the streets on Thursday, protesting against the implementation of “unilateral decisions” by the new administration led by Mayor Solly Msimanga.

Samwu spokesperson, Mpho Tladinyane, told reporters at the protest that trade unions were not consulted in Tshwane’s decision to use metro police officers to replace security guards at the numerous municipal buildings across the city.

“What we are raising is a matter of principle, to say, if there is supposed to be a restructuring, there must be consultation with labour on the matter. Now if there has not been consultation with labour on a particular restructuring process, what will happen is that we will be able to tell our members not to respond to that particular request by the employer to go to various deployments,” said Tladinyane.

“Thanks is exactly what we have said to our members … that this thing has not been consulted with us and therefore we cannot own up to that particular process.”

Thousands of private security guards manning municipal premises could be jobless as Tshwane has announced that it will not be renewing their companies’ contracts. The announcement has sparked frequent protests from security guards in Pretoria.

On Thursday, Tladinyane said his union had observed that the quality of service given to Tshwane residents by municipal employees had taken a knock.

“We then discovered that at the centre of these particular challenges remain the low morale that is embedded within our members who are employees of the City of Tshwane. Especially on [Tshwane] Metro Police issues, we met at the metro police and they indicated the following challenges. That is what has led to this march today. The first issue is about unilateral restructuring,” said Tladinyane.

“The City of Tshwane has decided to unilaterally restructure some of the sections and divisions of the metro police without first consulting labour. In terms of the Labour Relations Act and our collective agreement, when the employer seeks to restructure, there is a process to be followed at an appropriate bargaining forum. That has not been done.”

He said that restructuring of metro police units would lead to approximately 1,000 Metro police officers serving as security guards.

“As Samwu, we have always been advocating that municipal services which were outsourced must be insourced. [But] when you do that process, it is consultative in nature and we must be taken on board so that we deal with the nitty gritties. There has been a number of unilateral restructuring that has been done especially at metro police so we will be demonstrating to indicate that we are not happy.”

The protesting Samwu members were escorted by police as they marched to the municipal head office in the Pretoria CBD.