Samwu protesters in Howick behave as police turn up in full force

2014-06-11 00:00

THE chaos and mayhem expected during a march by members of the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) that resulted in police being deployed in full force, did not materialise yesterday as the workers were well behaved.

Almost 20 police vehicles with members of the Public Order Policing Unit from Pietermaritzburg and Newcastle were deployed to monitor the march that began at the park near the Howick Falls.

Judging from the heavy police presence, they had expected trouble from the workers, who two weeks ago rampaged through the town in a dispute with their employer uMngeni municipality.

Police brought an Nyala, a police water vehicle and a police “bus” used to load up arrested people.

Following the first illegal strike, the workers and the municipality reached an agreement to increase staff’s wages, but Cosatu leader John Dlamini said one party, that he did not name, had reneged on the agreement, hence the second legal march.

Beside the issue of wages, he cited other reasons including that some members of management were promising staff members full-time jobs in exchange for staying away from Samwu.

In a memorandum, he cited other concerns, including the outsourcing of road maintenance and called for the municipality to increase its own capacity.

Although the workers behaved throughout the march, they did not hold back on the verbal assault they directed at their mayor, Mbali Myeni. She was at the receiving end of unprintable insults.

Their dislike for her was clearly visible when she did not arrive to accept their memorandum and instead a manager at the municipality was sent out to accept it.

The workers took this as a sign of disrespect, with some calling for Myeni to be ousted.

Dlamini said they will be taking up the issue of Myeni’s behaviour with the ANC.

Tosh Makhathini, from the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, said it was their responsibility to ensure all municipalities work and the department will look at the issues raised by the workers.

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