Municipal workers march against being exploited

2016-02-16 12:30
Members of Samwu singing and dancing during a regional march at the provincial legislature.

Members of Samwu singing and dancing during a regional march at the provincial legislature. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), an affiliate of the ANC, has threatened not to vote if their demands regarding contract workers are not met.

Kitted out in their usual red, a large crowd of Samwu members marched to the legislature on Monday to submit their grievances “about the pervasive exploitation” of their workers in local government in the Pietermaritzburg area.

National treasurer Portia Lindi said the municipalities in the region together with MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Nomusa Dube-Ncube have 14 days to engage on the workers’ demands and report back to the union.

Lindi expressed her “disappointment” at the MEC’s failure to avail herself to accept the memorandum.

“It is very disrespectful of her to just send us someone to accept our memorandum. We just wanted 10 minutes of her time,” she said.

Dube-Ncube who had gone to visit the families of the three individuals who died during a lightning strike at KwaMachi near Harding on Saturday, had sent general manager in municipal administration and governance Lionel Pienaar, to accept the memorandum.

“I just hope that Cogta [Pienaar] is not just here to show face, but to listen,” said Lindi.

“The MEC must not forget that we are the ones who voted for her; we can easily change that. This is the problem with our MEC,” she said.

Cogta spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said it was unfortunate that the MEC could not be there to accept the memorandum.

“Death just happens, and you cannot plan for it. The families in KwaMachi deserve our support.”

Delivering the memorandum, regional secretary Sibu Molefe said temporary jobs are not the decent work which is advocated for by the government.

Molefe made reference to contract workers employed by Msunduzi Municipality for a period in excess of three months.

The workers had gone on a two-week strike late last year demanding that they be employed permanently, with some of them saying they had been employed as contract workers for more than eight years.

“The problem is that those contract workers are performing work that is permanent in nature.”

Molefe said Msunduzi Municipality has violated the provisions of the Labour Relations Amendment Act, which stipulates equal pay for equal work.

“In essence there must be no municipal employee permanent or not permanent, who earns below R6 014, back paid to April 1, 2015,” he said.

Molefe also said those who stand up for their rights were being threatened with the termination of their jobs.

Msunduzi spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said “the council was not aware of the contents of the memorandum”.

In uMgungundlovu District Municipality, Molefe said there was manipulation of salaries, which the office of MEC Dube-Ncube is no stranger to.

“To date the municipality continues to abuse authority by implementing two different salary systems in the same municipality to the detriment of employees performing the same work being remunerated differently.

“Some employees have not received notch increases since 2010, while others receive notch increases year on year thus bringing about an unfair labour practice.”

In Mpofana, Molefe said the municipality has appointed certain employees to act in positions in excess of the allowed time period.

• sabelo.nsele@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  protest  |  strike  |  march

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