Christmas lights, property vandalised as municipal workers protest in Buffalo City

2018-11-22 21:15
Christmas decoration vandalised during Buffalo City protest (supplied)

Christmas decoration vandalised during Buffalo City protest (supplied)

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Christmas light decorations, power supply boxes and municipal vehicles - these are some of the items that have been targeted as workers from the Buffalo City Metro Municipality protest over working conditions.

As part of the labour action, which started earlier this week, workers marched to City Hall in East London on Wednesday.

Municipality spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said on Thursday that they had not been served with an official strike notice and that the current position was "no work, no pay".

He believed workers were aggrieved by a number of issues, many emanating from job evaluation and grading.

GroundUp reported that people were calling for temporary workers to be made permanent and for an improvement in their working conditions.

"We want the municipality to absorb workers and make them full-time employees. We have people here who have been temporary since 2007," Zola Capucapu from the SA Municipal Workers' Union reportedly said.

Those who did not participate were forcefully taken out of their offices at the Munifin Centre, fire station and traffic department on Wednesday, said Warrant Officer Hazel Mqala.

"Doors were then locked to avoid further unlawful entries into buildings."

She said around 150 members from the supply chain office in Cambridge marched to City Hall after making a big fire in Amalinda Main Road.

In King William's Town, a group blocked Alexander Road and threw stones at police vehicles.

By evening, fires were burning in most streets and protesters had set alight power supply boxes.

Police said municipal workers allegedly lit the fires and then ran away before they were caught.

On Thursday, Mqala said they were monitoring the situation and that no arrests were made. 

This was as union members met with municipality managers and then held a meeting.

"We will wait to hear [what] position [they take]. We have a duty though to protect municipal employees who are at work as well as our property," said Ngwenya.

The municipality obtained an interim interdict to prevent further intimidation and destruction.

It recalled its non-essential vehicles from service and advised residents not to take out their refuse.

Ngwenya explained that trucks were not able to collect the refuse and that refuse was first to be scattered around and set alight during protests.

He hoped the matter would be speedily resolved.

Read more on:    protests
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