Community services strikers ‘tired of being overlooked for promotions’

2015-11-17 11:43
Community services municipal workers embarked on a strike outside the Harry Gwala Stadium.

Community services municipal workers embarked on a strike outside the Harry Gwala Stadium. (Kailene Pillay, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - More than 100 striking municipal workers danced around a cardboard coffin marked with the name of the manager of the community services department, Boniwe Zulu, on Monday, calling for her to step down.

Community services workers from sub-departments such as waste, parks, traffic, library and security picketed outside the gates of Harry Gwala Stadium saying they have been overlooked for promotions for too long.

A South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) shop steward said that all other departments in Msunduzi Municipality were placing their workers in better positions except for community services.

The group of striking workers called on Zulu to allocate vacant posts to the long-serving workers or step down.

“Many of these workers have been employed by the city for more than 20 years. Some are over-qualified with diplomas and degrees yet they are still behind a garbage truck now,” said a Samwu member who asked not to be named as he is not mandated to speak to the media.

He said that the workers were “angry and crying out” to Zulu to help them instead of being overlooked for higher positions.

A waste worker, who also asked not to be named, said he has been working as a waste collector for 10 years and only earns R80 a day.

“They have made so many promises to us but nothing ever happens. I cannot afford to feed my family with R80 a day yet I work six days a week whether it’s rain or sun. I have a diploma and I am a waste collector,” said the worker.

Another municipal worker said the municipality was “corrupt” and alleged that outsiders were brought in to fill top positions while they were overlooked.

“They must be fair. We are hard working and have put up with this for so long. Boniwe Zulu must go back to Kokstad if she can’t help us in Pietermaritzburg. Phansi [down with] Boniwe Zulu, phansi,” said the worker.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said the city could not deal with internal employer and employee matters within the media space. She added that the strike was illegal.

Madonda said that Msunduzi is committed to addressing all legitimate employer and employee disputes speedily, “with fairness and integrity, provided affected employees also follow due process and do not embark on strike action that is illegitimate or wage a media campaign to discredit the municipality or fellow employees without valid facts”.

“Dissatisfied or disgruntled employees, about any employment matter or any individual employee, are encouraged to address their legitimate concerns with line management internally first, in their respective hierarchy. This has not yet been done by the employees cited in the media query,” she said in response to questions raised by The Witness.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  service delivery  |  strike

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