Municipal strike on hold, may formally end today

2011-08-30 00:00

THE strike by the local South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) has been temporarily suspended and will be the subject of talks with Msunduzi Municipality officials today as the union leadership decides whether to formally end the stoppage.

Calling off the two-week-long strike will bring an end to the disruption of service delivery that has inconvenienced hundreds of households throughout the city and its surrounds.

Angry Hilton residents inundated The Witness with calls, asking why their power was not restored after 40 hours of being in the dark yesterday. The municipal call centre had failed to explain the blackouts.

Many residents complained that their businesses had been affected; others said they had been forced to throw away frozen groceries that had rotted as a result of power cuts.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said the problem with outages in Hilton could not be fixed by Sunday night because the municipality had to replace a power line that was damaged on Saturday after a tree had fallen on one of the two power lines that supply Hilton, leaving only one line working.

“This became overloaded and as a result the underground cable faulted, thus affecting the Retief Street 132kv breaker and it tripped, thus affecting Hilton, Sweetwaters and parts of the inner city.”

Zuma said a fault on an 11kv feeder from the Archbell sub-station was the reason for power outage in the City yesterday morning.

“The challenges of illegal connections in Copesville continue to haunt all of us, as they result in outages there as well.”

“We are aware of the frustrations that are caused by these outages and we apologise to residents and business people for the inconvenience,” said Zuma.

“The winter months, which are generally problematic because of the overload experienced during this time, have been a big challenge to us as our weak infrastructure battled to cope with the overload.”

The local Samwu secretary, Thulani Nzimande, said the talks with the municipal officials will determine whether the union will end its strike.

“KwaZulu-Natal has been outnumbered by the provinces that have decided to go back to work, but we have members who are willing to continue with the strike because they view the proposed 6,3% [wage offer] by the South African Local Government Association as an insult,” said Nzimande.

He confirmed that Musa Zungu, a striking employee who was shot at his home in havelock Raod on Wednesday, is recovering well in hospital.

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