Municipal workers threaten city standstill

2008-09-16 00:00

Labour relation disputes within the Msunduzi Municipality have threatened to bring delivery in the city to a standstill today.

South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) and Independent Municipal Allied Trade Union (Imatu) leaders within the council said they will embark on a full-blown strike today over salary increases. The planned strike would be the sixth in the municipality in just a month and a half.

The unions want the salaries of clerks and employees at the A-grade level, who earn about R3 000 per month, to be increased to between R5 000 and R6 000. They claim that there is favouritism within the municipality, with clerks and A-grade employees in certain departments earning much more than others on the same scale and with equal experience. They want council employees to be treated equally.

The unions also claim that there are employees within the council who have been on the A grade for more than 25 years.

Samwu local chairman Lucky Zimu said that they have mobilised departments, including electricity, water, waste, traffic and security to join the strike.

He said that both his union and Imatu met with Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo and acting municipal manager Zwe Hulane yesterday. The negotiations deadlocked because the unions wanted strategic executive manager for infrastructure services and facilities (IS&F) Phil Mashoko to be excluded from the meeting and their request was denied.

Workers in the water section went on strike two weeks ago demanding the dismissal of Mashoko, citing unhappiness with his management style.

If the strike goes on today, residents will be unable to report power and water cuts. Sewer bursts and waste collection will not be attended to.

Imatu shop steward Mbongeni Shezi said the situation has reached an impasse because management have repeatedly ignored their grievances.

Opposition parties condemned the strike and its effect on service delivery. The IFP’s Dolo Zondi said: “It’s baffling that a decision to increase salaries cannot be reached because the employees are the ones who do the work on the ground”.

DA caucus leader Bill Lambert said that his party is against illegal strikes. He said the matter should be resolved through the proper channels. “This will impact on service delivery, which is everybody’s objective,” said Lambert.

Hulane issued an ultimatum to council staff warning them that they could face disciplinary action or dismissal for embarking on an unlawful strike. He said that the no work, no pay rule applies.

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