Strike spans a month

Talks over wage increases and other labour issues between the Mangaung Metro Municipality and the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) – the union representing employees on strike – have soured.

This is after the authority of the embattled ANC-led municipality succeeded to secure an interim court interdict in the Labour Court in Johannesburg on Friday (09/06), declaring the month-long strike illegal.

More than 4 000 workers affiliated to the trade union, including those in temporary posts, have been on strike since 15 May.

The court interdict comes as the cash-strapped Mangaung Metro and Samwu would not reach consensus over labour issues that include wage increases and permanent employment of all temporary workers.

Sheriff Andries Kruger delivered the interdict on Monday (12/06) – much to the dismay of hundreds of unhappy workers, who reacted with utter disgust.

The interdict has created a stand-off between the ANC-led Mangaung Metro and the workers.

The workers in Bloemfontein have, since 15 May until Monday (12/06), been camping at the Hertzog Square, opposite the Free State Legislature – with armed police on guard. Those in Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu have been camping close to the municipality’s premises.

The leaders of the union, led by Pule Molalenyane (the national president) have begun consulting with the members in the greater Mangaung Metro. It is unclear if the workers will return to work by this week as per the interim court interdict, which has declared the strike unprotected.

Samwu has until 18 August to challenge the interim court interdict.

By Tuesday (13/06), scores of the workers on strike did not report for work as per the interdict.

Those from Bloemfontein assembled outside the Batho Community Hall in the Batho Township.

To give in to the union’s demand for a wage increase of R3 000 for all permanent workers, the Mangaung Metro would need approximately R12 060 000. As for back payment worth R40 000 since 2011 per indivi-dual, the city council would need approximately R16 080 000.

Meanwhile, the mayor of the Mangaung Metro, Olly Mlamleli, is set to hold a media briefing today (14/06) in Bloemfontein.

Qondile Khedama, spokesperson, said Mlamleli would brief the media about issues relating to the status quo of the strike and the way forward.

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