PMB contract workers threaten to go on strike

2015-10-13 10:30
The red-brick road around the City Hall.

The red-brick road around the City Hall. (Jonathan Burton)

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Pietermaritzburg - Msunduzi Municipality contract workers are threatening to down tools unless the municipality employs them as permanent workers.

The sanitation sector, which is made up of 20 contract workers and 30 permanent workers, deals not only with blocked pipes and sewerage but also helps with the maintenance of the city.

A well placed official within the sanitation section, who did not want to be named, confirmed the likelihood of the strike.

“It is out of our control. This puts pressure on the existing staff to train new employees when the contract workers have knowledge of the work,” said the official.

One worker threatened that Pietermaritzburg would “be in trouble”, as blocked sewerage lines would not be repaired if they stopped working.

A contract worker, who also did not want be named, said: “Some of us have been working for Msunduzi Municipality for five years, but we are still working under contracts and we have not been given or promised any permanent positions.”

According to this source, sewerage contract workers are still being paid R2 500 a month, while general workers at the city hall are earning R8 400 per month. This was not confirmed by the municipality.

According to a January report to the Msunduzi council, which was compiled by the Human Resource Support Services manager, all fixed-term contract workers prior to January 1 should be paid the same as permanent employees.

“Going down into the sewers is not easy, but we have no choice because we have to feed our families. Some workers are planning to go back to school, but how are we going to do that when we are being paid peanuts,” said the source.

“We have tried everything to get our managers to give these contract workers permanent positions but nothing has been done. Instead they have been given three-month contracts. We have been working with these contract workers for some time now,” said the Msunduzi official.

The contract workers are not part of any union but South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) felt they needed to intervene in this matter because they are able to help those employed directly or indirectly in municipalities.

Samwu secretary Nkululeko Maphanga said: “We are aware of this issue. At the moment I cannot tell you much apart from that we are still negotiating with the employer to give these contract workers permanent positions.”

Acting provincial spokesperson from the Department of Labour said: “The Labour Relations Amendment Act came into effect from the January 1 and it gave the employers a period of three months to adjust. Therefore … from April 1 the employers should have implemented the relevant clauses.

“The parties affected may raise their concerns with the municipality and if not resolved internally, they may refer a dispute to the relevant Bargaining Council as the Bargaining Council has jurisdiction.”

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Madeleine Jackson-Plaatjies said: “The matter raised is between employer and employee, and we cannot comment about it in a public domain.”

Read more on:    msunduzi municipality  |  pietermaritzburg

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