Strikers: R25 mln pay back

2011-06-07 00:00

MEMBERS of the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) in uMgungundlovu District Municipality (UMDM) yesterday embarked on an indefinite strike demanding the municipal manager, Sibusiso Khuzwayo, pays back the money owed to them.

The industrial action is a result of a dispute over the implementation of a new grading system at the UMDM which has not been resolved more than a year later.

The workers say the municipality owes them more than R25 million in back pay.

The issue started towards the end of December 2009 when the new placement process was put in place.

According to workers the terms of agreement, when the resolution was taken, were that any benefits which may accrue to employees as a result of their placements will be implemented with effect from 1 July 2010.

Nathi Hlongwa, secretary of UMDM shop steward unit of SAMWU, said this matter did not relate to the newly elected councillors because they are not against them, but their problem lay with the municipal manager Khuzwayo, who has not been consistent in implementing the new placement process as some employees are benefiting from it while others are not.

“Our members wanted to strike before the local government election; however, since we are members of the African National Congress we did not want to disrupt their election campaigns so we advised against the strike because that would have a negative impact on their canvassing,” he said.

Hlongwa said they still do not understand how the municipality gets qualified audits when it owes their members so much money.

“We are going to strike indefinitely until the management listen to our grievances,” he said.

He said last week they went to conciliation to resolve this matter, but the manager was so arrogant that he showed them that he was not prepared to have this matter resolved.

“The conciliator issued a certificate which stated that this matter remained unresolved, and then we held a meeting with workers, who unanimously decided to put down their tools indefinitely,” said Hlongwa.

A worker said the UMDM controls water and sanitation in six municipalities — Mooi-Mpofana, uMngeni, Richmond, Impendle, Mkhambathini and uMshwathi — and they will ensure that they stop services in all of them until the employer listens to them.

Sibusiso Khuzwayo, the UMDM manager, said the matter is still unresolved at national level as it is still in court. “This is not the only municipality that is affected by the new grading system because it was implemented at national level aimed at normalising all the municipalities countrywide,” he said.

He said there is money to pay back the staff, but he can not do that until the matter is resolved at national level saying, “The placement process has always been subject to job evaluation and that was stated in no uncertain terms in all placement letters sent out on 15 December 2009.”

He said the job evaluation process was completed by SALGA, SAMWU and IMATU, but at the eleventh hour both unions declared a dispute on the outcome of the process.

Khuzwayo said that neither the municipal manager nor the full council has jurisdiction over the job evaluation process, so the allegations of arrogance on his part are unfounded.

He warned those participating in the strike that it is an unlawful and unprotected strike that will be subject to the no work no pay principle.

Khuzwayo said members might even be dismissed for continuing with this illegal industrial action.

“There will be some interruption in service delivery, particularly in customer care offices as well as water services provision. Contingency plans are in place to minimise the impact of this industrial action in terms of service delivery,” said Khuzwayo.

“We appeal to our customers and other critical stakeholders to be patient for the duration of this unfortunate industrial action,” he added.

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