West Rand municipality strike enters 5th week

2018-11-26 16:44
A fleet of vehicles belonging to the West Rand District Municipality standing idle at the municipal premises. (Ntwaagae Seleka/News24)

A fleet of vehicles belonging to the West Rand District Municipality standing idle at the municipal premises. (Ntwaagae Seleka/News24)

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The strike over salaries and other benefits by disgruntled West Rand District Municipality workers entered its fifth week on Monday, with no end in sight.

The strikers remain steadfast that they will only return to work once their benefits have been fully paid, with interest.

The municipality had invested R77m into the now liquidated VBS Mutual Bank, despite it facing serious financial problems.

Bongani Mgcina, the South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) chairperson in the municipality, said their strike was continuing and that no services would be rendered until their medical aid premiums, pension fund contributions and other benefits had been fully paid.

On Friday, workers again received their salaries without benefits. This is the third month the controversial municipality has failed to pay them their benefits.

"There is no work happening here. We have downed tools. Our matter must be fixed with urgency before we can return to work," said Mgcina.

READ: West Rand District Municipality workers go home to wait for salaries

Workers claim that the district municipality was given R7.5m by neighbouring municipalities of Mogale City, Rand West and Merafong to pay salaries. Each municipality is said to have contributed R2.5m.

'Struggle continues'

"Our struggle continues," said Democratic Municipal Allied Workers Union of South Africa West Rand secretary Pitso Mogole.

Municipal vehicles - such as fire engines, emergency vehicles and community safety vehicles - remained locked up at the council premises in Randfontein.

The municipality was still offering critical services, such as attending to fires, emergencies and accidents.

READ: West Rand municipality emergency vehicles locked inside yard as employees refuse to work

However, Mogole said: "No service will be rendered. We have guarantees that, in December, we will be paid our salaries. On December 3, the municipality will receive its equitable share which will pay our salaries and backpay our third parties with interests.

"Our mayor (Boisie Maneli) and senior employees have assured us that our third parties will be paid in full next month," said Mogole.

'Government doesn’t care'

Workers downed tools at the end of October, demanding their salaries. They held the mayor, councillors and other senior employees against their will, demanding their salaries. They were paid the following day, after the cashless municipality scrambled to find money.

They have even marched to the office of Gauteng Premier David Makhura in the hopes of resolving the impasse.

"We have not been performing our duties for over a month now. Our minds are not in a good state to return to work. Some of our colleagues are forced to use government hospitals because they don’t have medical aids," Mogole said.

"Our government doesn’t care about service delivery and the people we are serving. If they cared enough, they would have long fixed this mess and we could have long returned to work. Our firefighters need to be in a good state of mind when performing their duties. They are not a good state of mind, and sending them back to work now will be suicidal."

Read more on:    samwu  |  protests  |  labour  |  service delivery

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