WATCH: Pretoria on lockdown as municipal worker strike continues

2019-07-30 15:41
Gridlocked traffic in the Tshwane CBD due to a bus driver strike. (Image via Twitter)

Gridlocked traffic in the Tshwane CBD due to a bus driver strike. (Image via Twitter)

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Tshwane House, situated on Madiba Street in the CBD, was a no-go area on Tuesday as the municipal workers' strike continued.

Entrances leading into the city were blocked by parked City buses, as well as electricity and waste trucks, with garbage scattered on the roads.

Workers, affiliated to the South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu), are demanding an 18% salary increase. Clad in their red caps and T-shirts, some workers sang and danced outside the City's offices, while others were marching on the streets, chanting "Asinavalo, sisebenza kanzima (We work hard and fear nothing)".

Madiba, Eskia Mphahlele, Sisulu, Lilian Ngoyi and Stanza Bopape streets were among those where no vehicles could manoeuvre.

Tshwane Metro Police spokesperson Isaac Mahamba told News24 that they were engaging with other authorities to assist with controlling and redirecting traffic. He said the department was overstretched, which is why they had requested assistance.

"As soon as we agree [with other authorities] with an operational plan, it will be executed. Temporarily, we have suspended the city bus services," he said.

'They have been robbing us from 2017'

Until the situation in the capital is back to normal, an increased traffic police presence would be seen on all major routes leading to and from the city, Mahamba said.

While Samwu leadership was underground and unreachable, as workers camped outside the offices, some employees told media that "it is 18% or nothing".

"They have been robbing us from 2017. We want 18%, not 11%. If they don't give us, then it is going to burn in this city," an employee said.

Another said they heard that only seniors had received increases, but those on the ground had not yet been paid their increase of 18%, which he added they duly deserved.

"If this is not resolved, then there will be a problem. All we want is our percentage," the worker said.

Samwu Tshwane regional chairperson, Lesang Mantsho said the city had isolated other employees from senior managers, by giving an 18% increase to seniors. 

"As collective, we are saying we deserve that money. We must be paid and we are not on strike, we are in a picketing process. Today we are here to receive feedback," Mantsho said. 

Samwu leadership were currently meeting with the city's executive at the bargaining council and expected to meet the workers to give feedback, Mantsho added. 

Meanwhile, the City has obtained an interdict against the protest action, which, according to it, is unlawful. In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, it said the interdict was obtained as an urgent measure to allow service delivery to continue.

City threatens criminal action

"The City has been open to engaging the employees on an appropriate and legitimate platform, which is the Bargaining Council.

"However, efforts to arrive at the consensus with employees are increasingly challenging, as the unions are yet to lodge a complaint at the Bargaining Council," mayoral spokesperson Omogolo Taunyane said.

Taunyane said, because residents and businesses in the CBD were negatively affected by the ongoing action, the City would be laying criminal charges against instigators and participants of the strike.

In a statement on Tuesday, the ANC Greater Tshwane Region said the party was monitoring the developments.

"We will get involved should there be a deadlock and political disagreement or stalemate between Samwu and the employer. Our interest is to see an amicable solution to the labour dispute and for workers to be treated fairly by the employer," ANC regional secretary Eugene Modise said.

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Read more on:    pretoria  |  service delivery  |  protests

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