Wage strike by Rand Water employees called off following court ruling

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Rand Water employees demonstrating over salary increase and bonuses.
Rand Water employees demonstrating over salary increase and bonuses.
Ntwaagae Seleka
  • The strike by Rand Water employees over wages and other benefits has been called off.
  • The workers agreed to return to their jobs after claiming the Labour Court had ruled in their favour.
  • They said it ordered Rand Water to pay outstanding bonuses. 

Rand Water employees have called off their strike, claiming the Labour Court had ruled in their favour.

Employees affiliated to the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) downed tools on Wednesday, and staged protests outside its headquarters in Glenvista, Johannesburg.

They promised to return to their posts on Thursday.

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The workers claimed the court had ordered their employer to pay outstanding bonuses. 

Samwu's Gauteng deputy provincial secretary, Mamorena Madisha, said the union was served with a notice of intent to interdict the strike on Tuesday by Rand Water.

The two parties then appeared in court on Wednesday.

"Their interdict was not granted by the court. Our victory was that the court had rescinded Rand Water's decision not to pay bonuses. We will go back to work from Thursday. We feel vindicated. The court ordered that we both sit and discuss our matter further.

"Should they not comply with the court order, we will go back and strike. The strike is called off. We are confident that the employer will abide by the court order and pay us what is due," Madisha.

Demands

On 28 April, both parties are expected to meet again at the CCMA to address other outstanding demands such as wage increases and other benefits.

Workers are demanding a R4 000 salary increase, R3 500 housing allowance, 80% employer medical aid contribution, 20% employee contribution and a 25% employer contribution towards their pensions.

Rand Water's general manager, Teboho Joala, said it was studying the judgment and would respond at a later stage.

Joala added the strike was illegal, and it had taken the case to court. 

"We have approached the Labour Court to prevent this strike because it is illegal. We have over 3 800 employees and those who are here are less than 50. Work is continuing unabated. 

"It is a normal day in our office, except for some who are working from home as a result of the pandemic. We are confident that there is no negative impact that will arise from the strike."

He said the strike would not affect the water supply.

"We have prepared and have made various consultations after we received the notice to strike, although it is an illegal strike.

"We don't anticipate any problems or negative impact. We assure the public that there will be continuous and sustained water provisions and supply to our customers, including all municipalities," Joala added.

Rand Water has threatened to apply a "no work, no pay" rule and to subject protesting employees to disciplinary processes.

Meanwhile, Gauteng Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Lebogang Maile urged Rand Water and Samwu to find a lasting resolution to avoid prolonged industrial strike action. 

Maile said both parties must bargain in good faith or opt for a facilitated settlement process by an independent, unbiased and credible mediator.

"We welcome the assurance from Rand Water that the strike will not have a serious bearing on water supply in the province. Our concern, as the Gauteng government, was water interruptions in essential service sectors like public schools and health facilities," he added.

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