Weather, divisions hamper strike

2011-08-16 12:00
Johannesburg - The cold, wet weather and internal divisions were blamed for the slow start to the municipal workers strike on Tuesday.

"In seven provinces we had a good turnout, in two provinces we didn't," said SA Municipal Workers' Union spokesperson Tahir Sema.

"In KwaZulu-Natal the response to the marches and picketing was slow because of the cold and rainy weather. In Gauteng it was partly due to the wet weather and partly to divisions within a union branch.

"It did not go as well as we anticipated in the province."

Strikers marched through central Cape Town on Tuesday morning, knocking over rubbish bins and setting fire to some.

Sema said the national leadership were meeting the branch in Gauteng to iron out the internal divisions.

Samwu expected about 145 000 workers to take part in the strike. Sema said he anticipated that the action would "gain momentum" in the next few days.

Nothing less than 10%

Municipal workers downed tools on Monday, demanding an 18% wage increase while employers, the SA Local Government Association, were offering a 6.08%.

Sema said there were no immediate talks scheduled and the union waited on the employer to revise their offer - the union would not settle for anything less than 10%.

"We are hoping to hear from them very soon. We are willing to call off the strike as soon as they table a reasonable offer, no less than 10%... we are willing to negotiate," he said.

Salga spokesperson Milisa Kentane could not immediately be reached for comment.

On Monday, she said the association's doors were open to talks and its offer stood at 6.08%.

A Salga advert which appeared in Sunday newspapers stated that the unions and employer had reached a multi-year salary agreement in 2009.

According to that deal, workers got a 13% increase in 2009, 8.48% increase in 2010 and would get 6.08% in the current year.

Parties would be able to re-open negotiations if inflation went either below 5% or above 10%.

"In this instance, the parties agree that the CPI [Consumer Price Index] stands at 4.08%. Based on this, the unions requested that negotiations be re-opened," stated Kentane in the advert.

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Read more on:    samwu  |  salga  |  johannesburg  |  durban  |  cape town  |  strikes

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