Striking municipal staff in Richmond go on rampage

2014-06-25 00:00

THE town of Richmond came to a standstill yesterday morning as municipal workers went on a rampage, closing down Shepstone Street during a protest over pay issues.

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) members sang struggle songs as they trashed the streets.

Yesterday, Chilley and Shepstone streets were littered with rubbish, stones, bricks and waste bins.

Police were called to monitor the situation while workers blockaded Shepstone Street, causing traffic chaos. The protesters also burned tyres, closing the entrance to the Richmond Municipality offices with one such tyre.

Richmond Mayor Andrew Ragavaloo, municipal managers and Samwu leaders were locked in a meeting that lasted for hours while the chaos continued outside.

The workers were demanding that their salaries be increased because there were employees doing the same job but earning different salaries.

“We view this as favouritism on the part of the employer because how can we be working for the same municipality, doing the same job, but earning different salaries?” asked an angry employee.

They wanted jobs aligned so that people doing the same job earned the same salaries.

“We are demanding equal pay for equal work,” said another employee.

The workers also complained that some of their colleagues had been temporary employees for nine years without being permanently employed.

After the negotiations were completed, a joint statement from the municipality and Samwu was issued. It said it was agreed that the workers’ issues would be reviewed by a committee of five. “We are sympathetic to the concerns of the employees and apologise to residents for inconvenience caused,” it read, adding that the review would begin today to speedily resolve the matter.

Samwu distanced itself from the chaos caused by the workers, saying that its members were not on strike, but were waiting for the negotiations being conducted to be concluded.

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