Mooi River protesters ignore council’s warning

2013-08-08 00:00

MUNICIPAL workers in Mooi River are continuing with their illegal strike despite a council resolution that they will face disciplinary action if they continue. They have also been warned that the no work, no pay rule will apply.

The Mpofana mayor, Ntombi Mpangase-Mchunu, is not answering her phone.

Despite the front entrance of the municipal building being trashed, telephone cables cut and windows broken last week, the management had not laid any charges with the police by yesterday.

The workers told The Witness they were striking because of a breakdown in functionality within the municipality. They could not do their jobs because they did not have the proper tools. They said phone bills were not paid and there were no ink cartridges or paper for photocopying machines.

Workers blamed this on the fact that the municipality had not had a municipal manager or chief financial officer for several months, and questioned the lengthy delay in making the appointments. However, residents who spoke to The Witness said they heard that a key reason for the strike was the slashing of overtime pay.

When the workers did not return to work this week after council’s resolution that they be disciplined was adopted, senior municipal managers went to the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department (Cogta) for help. This resulted in a negotiating team being sent to the municipality.

DA councillor Ken Denysschen said there were no workers at the municipality and no services, including the sale of electricity coupons as there was no one to sell them. He said this meant that people were stealing electricity by bypassing the system or they were sitting in darkness.

Denysschen said the interviews for the municipal manager and chief financial officer’s positions had taken place on June 28.

He asked why Cogta had not followed up on the appointments as a matter of urgency, since the department was aware they were points of contention.

The IFP has repeated its call for Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube to place the municipality under administration.

IFP uMgungundlovu District caucus chairperson Mbongeni Madlala said the municipality would have been under administration by now had it been run by the IFP.

He accused the MEC of being hesitant because this was a municipality run by her party — the ANC.

Cogta spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said the department had the names of the chosen candidates and these were undergoing a verification process to assess qualifications and criminal records.

He said Cogta was at the municipality yesterday, engaging with all parties to put an end to the strike. Talks would continue today, he added.

They were making progress and his department would issue a statement once all matters under dispute had been resolved.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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