'We must be taken care of' - Durban CBD strike issues head to bargaining council

2019-05-02 17:52
Images have been making the rounds in Durban as the municipal workers' strike intensifies. (Supplied)

Images have been making the rounds in Durban as the municipal workers' strike intensifies. (Supplied)

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The eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality will take its workers' grievances to the central bargaining council after a prolonged strike caused major gridlock in the CBD.

The strike started early this week and workers, many from the Water and Sanitation Unit, including Durban Solid Waste (DSW), launched a city-wide protest that became disruptive and violent.

Despite a court interdict that prevented an illegal strike, Thursday was no different. Workers used DSW trucks to block main roads into the city.

The most chaotic scenes played out in the Durban CBD where workers used violence and intimidation to occupy city streets.

The City said grievances which related to workers who wanted to be elevated to a Grade-10 pay scale would be taken to the central bargaining council which will deliberate on the matter and make a ruling.

City manager Sipho Nzuza said that legally, eThekwini did not have jurisdiction in the matter.

City operations crippled

He appealed to workers to resume their duties with immediate effect and refrain from resorting to violence.

"After lengthy consultations between us and the union representatives, we have decided to refer the matter to the central bargaining council for further negotiations and determination."

Nzuza said discussions at the bargaining council would commence on Monday and were expected to be concluded in 30 days.

"We urge our employees to desist from violent strikes that cripple the operations of the city. Recently, we had to spend a lot of resources and money to clean up the mess that was left behind by our workers in the central business district."

He said the City apologised to residents who were affected by the disruption of access to basic services.

"A principle of no work, no pay will apply and workers could face disciplinary action as the City obtained an interdict making it unlawful to participate in this strike." 

'We must be taken care of'

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one worker told News24 she was unhappy about the decision.

"They take advantage of us very close to voting time. We must be taken care of. How can they give salaries to MKs and not us?"

The workers claim the municipality recently hired members of the MK Veterans on a higher wage scale. They called for their salaries to be upgraded to the same level.

Commuters faced heavy congestion on Thursday morning as the strike commenced just after 08:00. Disgruntled workers targeted main roads.

DSW trucks blocked the M7 Durban bound and another 20 trucks were spotted moving through Otto Volek Road in New Germany. 

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Nqobile Gwala said most roads were cleared.

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