Strikers protest at escort for Ugu mayor

2011-08-23 00:00

SOUTH African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) has criticised Ugu District Mayor Ntombifikile Gumede for arriving at their gathering with an escort of fully armed police officers.

The Samwu regional mass action in support of a pay rise has seen municipal workers streaming to the streets of Port Shepstone from as far as Kokstad, Sisonke District municipalities and municipalities in Ugu District.

Police were deployed in large numbers to ensure maximum security.

Provincial Samwu chairperson Sipho Dlamini spoke out against the heavy security accorded to Gumede, saying the union is disappointed by this measure, the first of its kind in the province.

“We are having a peaceful march and do not know why our deployed ANC members have brought such numbers of security …”

Dlamini said the union will engage the ANC on the matter because its members are peaceful strikers demanding a living wage.

“There are people who are killed by criminals and those criminals have not been arrested while police are guarding trash from us. Our mayor is afraid of us … She is our comrade for whom we were going door to door asking for votes from the public, and today she thinks we are dangerous?

“Please, mayor, instruct police to stand aside and come to receive the memo from the workers. We are not dangerous.”

Gumede apologised to the union for the escort of armed police who surrounded her as she approached the strikers to receive their memo. “I am sorry, comrades … I was in another meeting and I did not arrange what has happened here.”

Ugu Samwu chairperson Francis Zama read out the memo, which stated Samwu’s demand for a 18% salary increase. He called for the end to corruption in Ugu’s municipalities, saying councils declare they have no money to pay workers but managers earn exorbitant salaries and misuse their finances.

“The mayor of Hibiscus does not use the former mayoral vehicle … and the Ugu Mayor does not use the former mayoral Audi Q7 vehicles and they drive expensive hired cars”.

The workers conducted themselves peacefully and no rubbish was strewn in the streets.

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