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CTA WORKERS WANT COURT TO REOPEN TRADING ACCOUNT

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MBABANE – Battle lines have been drawn between government and the Central Transport Administration (CTA) employees. 

This follows an urgent application, which has been filed at the Industrial Court by the employees’ union, NAPSAWU, seeking an order against the closing of the Trading Account for the CTA as per Circular No.1 of 2020/21, which they viewed as unlawful.  

NAPSAWU is an acronym for the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union. 

The Circular was issued by the Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Khangeziwe Mabuza, allegedly without prior consultation with the union as per the Recognition Agreement. 

The Circular was issued on August 5, 2020. 

NAPSAWU has applied to the court that the implementation of Circular No.1 be stopped pending the final determination of the court application. 

Respondents 

“Directing the Accountant General, Treasury Department and Stores together with the respondents jointly and severally to reopen and or restore the proper functioning of the Trading Account of the CTA forthwith pending the final determination of this application,” submitted NAPSAWU. 

The respondents in the matter are PS Mabuza, PS in the Ministry of Public Service, PS in the Ministry of Finance, the accountant general, Treasury and Store Department, Under Secretary in the Civil Service Commission and the attorney general.       

NAPSAWU has submitted that it wanted the court to declare the Circular as unlawful and contrary to the Central Transport Organisation (CTO) Act No.13 of 2013 and to be of no force or effect from the date of the order of the court.

According to the applicants’ secretary general, Thulani Hlatshwayo, who is employed at the Eswatini National Fire and Emergency Service, the union represented its fully paid members employed under the CTA. NAPSAWU submitted that in the year 2010 there was a contemplation of privatising the CTA. In the founding affidavit, the union submitted that the initiative was being done through the services of an auditing company, KPMG, which had its principal place of business situated in Mbabane. 

“The company (KPMG) was during this period actively directing operations at CTA informally and as such the state of affairs was ill-received by the members of the applicant,” submitted the secretary general. 

He submitted that NAPSAWU, in a bid to ameliorate and combat the situation in the interest of its affected members, approached the court for an interdict and restoration of the status quo at CTA and the matter was decided in the applicant’s favour. 

It was submitted that in 2013 still in pursuit of privatising CTA, there was an Act which was proposed for the transformation of CTA. 

The Act was assented to on August 1, 2013 and was duly published as law on a government gazette issued on August 9, 2013, according to the founding affidavit. 

The union submitted that from the date of the promulgation of the Act, there was nothing that was embarked upon to depict a commencement of the process of transformation of CTA in terms of the Act and as provided in the same law. 

Provisions 

It was averred that the relationship between the applicant and its employer was duly governed by the provisions of a Recognition Agreement which was duly entered into on June 30, 2017. 

Hlatshwayo submitted that therefore any step that was to be taken by government apart from the fact that it had to be in accordance with the Act, they were also duty bound by the provisions of the Recognition Agreement. 

NAPSAWU submitted that towards the end of 2019 (November), government commenced to informally engage shop stewards (employees) directly at CTA, without the consent of the union and contrary to the provisions of the agreement. 

As a result, according to the court documents, NAPSAWU alleged that it wrote to government, in particular the PS in the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, to humbly implore her to desist from directly talking to the employees without knowledge or consent of the applicant. 

It was alleged that government, following the letter, simply ceased to approach the shop stewards and/or any of NAPSAWU’s members at CTA. 

“This was the position from November 2019 until April 2020 when NAPSAWU’s executive was advised by the General Transport Manager, Washington Khumalo, that communication is now being directed to him and there is a minute which he furnished to the applicant’s executive in particular to me fortifying this occurrence,” submitted Hlatshwayo. 

He said the minute from PS Mabuza referred to a meeting they had in March 2020 allegedly again without NAPSAWU or its members’ knowledge. 

He submitted that the matter was brought to the executive in May 2020. 

These are allegations contained in an affidavit whose veracity is yet to be tested by the courts.  

 The union is represented by attorney Meluleki Ndlangamandla of MLK Ndlangamandla Attorneys.

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