Municipal workers march on city hall

2009-07-28 00:00

NO major incidents were reported yesterday when members of the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) and the Independent Municipal and Trade Union (Imatu) marched to the city hall as part of a nationwide strike

They presented a memorandum outlining their grievances.

Despite a large turnout by union members, there were no major disruptions to municipal services.

Addressing the energetic crowd gathered outside the city hall, the regional secretary of the South African Communist Party, Matthews Ndlovu, said jhis members are tired of reading newspaper accounts about corruption in the municipality and will fight to have the culprits removed.

He called on Samwu to strengthen its resolve in the fight against corruption and said it is unfair for people in management positions to get high bonuses while other workers are paid peanuts.

Before handing over the memorandum to Msunduzi Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo, Samwu provincial chairman Ntokozo Nzuza urged her to contact the SA Local Government Association (Salga) and tell them that Msunduzi has decided to approve a 15% wage increase for workers so the issue can be resolved.

Hlatshwayo said it is difficult for her to do so because not all municipalities across the country can afford to give their workers an increase of that magnitude.

In its memorandum, Samwu is calling for a 15% wage increase or R2 500 — whichever is greater.

“The 11,5% [Salga] offer this year and inflation plus 1,5% in 2010 and inflation plus 2,0% in 2011 is an insult to us,” states the memorandum.

It goes on to say that the wage gap between workers and municipal managers continues to widen, yet Salga claims it cannot afford to pay workers more.

The memorandum requests a minimum wage of R5 000 and says that in the current volatile economic climate, negotiations should take place yearly.

“Our members were last provided an increase in 2002 for housing assistance. Housing prices have since soared …

We therefore demand that you increase the housing allowance to provide a 70% subsidy based on a housing bond of R200 000,” the memorandum states.

Municipal manager Rob Haswell said most municipal employees were at work except for about 500 who took part in the march.

He said the municipality had to hire private contractors to remove waste yesterday, but the strike was not as severe as the previous one.

Haswell said the strike was generally orderly except for the “disorder committed by [uMgungundlovu] District Municipality workers” who threw rubbish along Langalibalele Street.

“We have this on video and will be investigating it,” he said.

District municipal manager S’bu Khuzwayo said they will conduct their own investigation regarding the matter.

Cosatu’s KwaZulu-Natal general secratary, Zet Luzipho, said unions are engaged in consultations and they are waiting for the outcome.

Full-time shopsteward for Samwu in the Msunduzi Municipality Themba Lyons said over 1 000 members took part in the march, representing almost half of their local 2 200 members.

He said they were happy with the strike action and would continue striking until they were given national orders to do otherwise.

Although members of the public could not access libraries yesterday and some clinics kept patients waiting longer than usual, the A.S Chetty building was fully operational and people could go pay their accounts.

Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said despite rubbish, no problems were encountered.

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