Strike is over, says union

2009-07-31 00:00

A SETTLEMENT has been reached in wage negotiations with municipal workers, the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union said last night.

“There was a breakthrough … and the deal was acceptable,” said Imatu general secretary Johan Koen.

He said the SA Local Government Association (Salga) revised its wage offer to what amounted to a 13% wage increase across the board.

A three-year deal is to be signed at 1 pm today, which will result in workers getting 10,5% across the board from July 1 as well as a 2,5% non-pensionable allowance.

The 2,5% will become pensionable next year in July.

That the strike, which entered its fourth day yesterday, is over “is a done deal” said Koen, and it is now about informing members.

All the workers should be back at work by Monday, he said.

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) would not comment on the settlement.

In Pietermaritzburg earlier yesterday, municipal employees who reported for duty at the A.S. Chetty building were called “rats” by striking municipal workers.

Armed policemen stood guard at entrances and the employees peered out from the building’s windows as strikers waved knobkieries and loudly cursed those in the building.

Shouts of, “We can see you and we’re coming back for you!” and “You are rats!” were accompanied by the loud blasts of vuvuzelas.

Earlier, representatives from Cosatu, Samwu and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) gathered with the crowd outside the uMgungundlovu District Municipality to deliver a memorandum to District Mayor Yusuf Bhamjee and municipal manager S’bu Khuzwayo.

They told the mayor the strikers would only agree to a wage offer of 13%.

“In the past 15 years, there was economic growth, but the standard of living for employees has decreased. Now the recession is being used as an excuse not pay workers what they deserve,” said a striker.

Strikers also complained that they are overworked and alleged that some workers are forced to do the jobs of three people, but are only getting one person’s salary.

Bhamjee acknowledged the strikers, signed the memorandum and told them things need to move forward for the sake of service delivery.

A MUNICIPAL workers’ strike in Underberg turned chaotic on Wednesday as police fired rubber bullets into the crowd and arrested 11 strikers.

The strikers are unhappy with the way police handled the situation and are seeking legal advice.

Regional secretary for the ANC Youth League Thabiso Zulu said, “I was also among those who were arrested and it was disturbing that the police felt that they had to beat up women and drag them on the ground. Some suffered further beatings at the police station after being arrested.”

Zulu said workers were afraid to go on strike in previous years, but this year they decided to strike in solidarity with workers country-wide.

Of the 11 arrested, six are women and five men. They were charged with holding an illegal gathering and public violence, said Inspector Lindo Nyawose.

Nyawose said the police fired rubber bullets to control the strikers after they had ignored requests to disperse.

“No assaults took place and those who were arrested were released after paying R200 bail each,” he said.

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