Mayor in war room to handle strike

2011-08-29 00:00

MSUNDUZI Mayor Chris Ndlela has been on the ground visiting burning electricity sub-stations, applying for court interdicts and in the war room daily, working on contingency planning around the current strike.

These details emerged at a special Executive Committee (Exco) meeting on Friday where councillors were told what is going on. Ndlela said people trying to pay their utility bills were being intimidated at 333 Church Street.

This was when they learnt that essential service employees were out on strike. The municipality immediately applied for an interdict against these strikers.

Since then they discovered that the interdict was not being observed. They have written to the union’s lawyers, asking them to instruct their clients to observe the interdict.

Council also organised outside contractors to do the refuse removal, but this plan was thwarted when contractors refused to go out because of alleged intimidation. In the midst of this there were the power and water outages. Municipal staff were commended for outstanding work in containing a fire at a major sub-station in Northdale, which could have resulted in an explosion and a major blackout for days instead of a couple of hours.

Ndlela said they had just put into action a plan to increase security for cleaning contractors and at municipal installations when the shooting of a striker took place. He expressed his sympathy to the injured worker and said they had been trying to meet with officials of his union.

The mayor and officials meet every day to review contingency planning. These details were shared with councillors, but not all details can be made public because of security considerations.

Administrator Sbu Sithole agreed to get the municipality’s communications unit to put out daily bulletins to keep residents informed.

Daily attendance registers are being kept. Most office-based staff are at work, with an average absentee rate of two to six percent.

Stayaways ranging from 35 to 70% include such departments as infrastructure, electricity, water, sanitation, waste management, the landfill site, roads and transport.

Ndlela apologised to residents and ratepayers and added that the municipality’s actions will always be guided by the law.

Sithole said he has been asked how Ndlela, a former union man, is handling the situation.

He said the mayor distinguishes between his historic and current roles and has been objective and exemplary in his guidance during the strike.

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