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Municipal strike over

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Sol “gives in” to union’s demands.

SA MUNICIPAL Workers’ Union (Samwu) members are expected to return to work on Thursday after their list of demands was met by the Sol Plaatje Municipality.

This was confirmed by Sol Plaatje executive mayor Patrick Mabilo, who briefed the members on Wednesday in the presence of the national, provincial and local bodies of Samwu.

Samwu’s seven-day strike action has brought all municipal services to a standstill and left many city ratepayers fed up and furious.

The decision to meet the union’s demands and for services to resume was taken after Samwu and the municipality were locked in a meeting from 10am until 6pm on Tuesday, which was followed by an urgent council meeting on Wednesday morning, in which some of the demands had to be passed.

The meeting was attended by Samwu representatives, the mayoral committee, and the local labour forum (LLF).

A Samwu national delegation, under general secretary Koena Ramotlou, arrived in Kimberley for the demands to be concluded.

The municipal workers will receive the 6.25% salary increase that they demanded, from the end of November this year.

The payment of July to November 2020 outstanding payments will be staggered between January 2021 and June 2021.

The same terms will apply to all the contract workers.

Mabilo promised that the issue of a danger/risk allowance being paid to workers who were recalled during the lockdown will be discussed at an LLF meeting on October 27.

The discussion will also include the amounts that the workers will be paid.

The municipality has agreed to fully recognise the list of shop stewards that they were presented with by Samwu.

This follows threats by the municipality to suspend the shop stewards.

The municipality has also promised to do a budget assessment and adjustment in an effort to absorb all contract workers and EPWP workers.

“According to the employer, all contract workers are part of the database for permanent appointment. That matter will be referred to the LLF too,” said Mabilo.

The municipality has agreed to withdraw its intentions to suspend the shop stewards who were served notices on October 12, in the interest of maintaining a good employer-employee working relationship.

The issues of night shift allowances, overtime and long-service bonuses will be referred to the LLF.

A long-service allowance will be dealt with administratively through the office of the director for corporate services.

All outstanding overtime for the period of November and December 2020 should be paid, including all overtime above the threshold that was officially authorised.

All parties agreed that the matter of ‘no work, no pay’ will be open for engagement.

Mabilo dismissed allegations that the workers’ demands, some of which date back to 2011, took too long to be addressed.

He said the intention for the municipality to resolve the matters has always been there.

“We were busy with the process of consulting. And then on Tuesday the strike started, on Wednesday they joined the national Cosatu strike. And then we were left with Thursday and Friday. On Friday there were engagements between our leadership and Samwu,” said Mabilo.

“In the process of solving the challenges, we had to sit down and look at our affordability.

“A catch-up plan will be put in place to speed up municipal services that suffered during the strike,” added Mabilo.

The municipality could not confirm whether the workers would be paid overtime to participate as part of the catch-up plan.

The acting municipal mayor, Boy Dhluwayo, said they will work out a strategy on how the lost hours can be recovered.

Ramotlou indicated that Samwu will ensure that this agreement is protected and advised the municipality to continue working with shop stewards to get their input.

The Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci) has meanwhile slammed Sol Plaatje Municipality for holding ratepayers hostage.

The municipality has been blamed for ignoring the coming strike action and for failing to have its house in order

The CEO of Nocci, Sharon Steyn, expressed her relief on Wednesday that the strike is over.

“We cannot afford another day without work,” said Steyn.

“The municipality must have a permanent Plan B in the form of a disaster management plan for incidents like these,” said Steyn.

She indicated that while she was impressed that the municipality managed to clean the CBD over the weekend, she was disappointed that some businesses and residents had to “swim in sewage” and lose precious water due to broken pipes.

“Sol Plaatje must watch out because businesses are gatvol of its incompetence. Businesses should not be held responsible for their incompetence. They must pull up their socks and get their house in order,” said Steyn.

“Where is the premier when all this drama is happening? Where is Salga?

“Covid has already damaged everyone and everything. No one needs this.

“No one is willing to pay for services that were not delivered.”