Most employees at work - Salga

2009-07-28 14:06

Johannesburg - Most municipal employees showed up for work on Tuesday, SA Local Government Association (Salga) chairperson Amos Masondo said.

"We appreciate that yesterday [Monday] at least 60% of our essential service workers turned up for work and we regret that 40% did not," Masondo told reporters in Johannesburg, referring to a nationwide strike by municipal workers.

"The bulk [of the 60%] would be emergency workers," claimed City of Johannesburg spokesperson Nthatisi Modigoane.

Exact numbers were however difficult to determine since the status of some workers and offices might change throughout the day.

"It's very confusing, it fluctuates a lot," he said.

Adding to the confusion, many workers pitched up for work in the morning and punched in, only to spend the day striking before returning to work to punch out, Johannesburg mayoral committee member, councillor Natshidiso Mfikoe said.

'No work, no pay'

Mfikoe said municipalities would monitor employees and apply a "no work, no pay" policy.

"[We'll] keep track of who is going to work. We are not going to allow people to play games with us."

The SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) has claimed "overwhelming" support for the strike, saying more than 150 000 workers out of 190 000 did not arrive for work on Monday.

Municipal workers were set to stage more marches countrywide on Tuesday, the second day of a national strike to press for a 15% wage increase.

Masondo, who is also Johannesburg mayor, but was speaking in his capacity as Salga chairperson, expressed concern that service delivery would be compromised. He however promised that basic service delivery in municipalities would continue uninterrupted.

"We will do everything in our power to make sure basic service delivery takes place, even under these very difficult circumstances."

Negotiations continue

Samwu has promised more industrial action while negotiations between Salga and unions continue.

"You will see a number of marches unfolding today [Tuesday]," said Samwu general secretary Mthandeki Nhlapo at the briefing.

"In Johannesburg, you will see a march to Salga and in Cape Town you will see a similar march happening."

Several protesters were injured by rubber bullets on Monday as thousands of municipal workers took to the streets, harassing hawkers and emptying refuse bins in city streets.

Salga Mpumalanga chairperson Speedo Mashilo condemned reports of violence by strikers.

"Any type of intimidation is against the law. When everything is done, we will have to collate information and decide what deserves criminal prosecution," said Mashilo.

Masondo however said investigating "anarchy and criminality" were not the main priority.

"At the moment we are concentrating on ensuring that industrial action comes to an end and the parties find one another. That's our main focus. Other things we'll deal with later," he said.

Reports of violence

Samwu's Nhlapo said the union was still investigating reports of violence during the strike and would only comment once the probe had been completed.

"We have received several allegations of violence and we are following up to establish their accuracy.

"We continue to encourage our members to embark on peaceful marches."

Salga has called on unions to return to the negotiating table, saying it had already "significantly" upped its wage offer from 10.5% to 13%.

Nhlapo added: "Tomorrow [Wednesday], we will convene a meeting to take an informed decision on whether we accept the offer or reject it."

Samwu's sister union, the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) would discuss the revised offer in Pretoria on Thursday.

Imatu's Stanley Khoza said: "We are busy reporting back to our members following the release of the new offer. Negotiations will take place in Pretoria on Thursday."