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Municipal workers call off strike action after protest at council meeting in Kuruman

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Ga-Segonyana Municipality has been operating on a skeleton staff due to strike action and lunchtime pickets.

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WORKERS at Ga-Segonyana Municipality have temporarily called off strike action after protesting outside the council chambers in Kuruman on Monday, where the police had to escort some officials into the council meeting.

According to the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), workers tried to storm into the council meeting as they felt that management was not attending to their problems.

“Workers applied for a strike certificate about two weeks ago but the municipality obtained an interdict to stop them.”

Samwu provincial secretary Lawrence Fennie stated that a petition was handed over on April 28. “Workers want to approach the MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta) to suspend the municipal manager and mayor … and that they must also be subjected to lifestyle audits.”

Fennie said that the union members also wanted to know why only select workers received Covid-19 allowances when they were all working during the national lockdown.

“All contract workers should be appointed on permanent contracts,” he added.

Ga-Segonyana municipal manager Martin Tsatsimpe said that the strike action was called off on Monday.

“The municipality has been operating on a skeleton staff due to ongoing sporadic strike action and lunchtime pickets. Independent Municipal Allied Trade Workers Union (Imatu) members were not participating in the strike, so services did not come to a complete standstill,” said Tsatsimpe.

He added that grievances, including issues regarding Covid-19 and danger allowances, were addressed by the deadline … although workers were “not entirely happy” with the responses provided.

Tsatsimpe stated that the petition would be discussed at the next local labour forum meeting.

“Union representatives were invited to participate in Monday’s council meeting. Members of the public are not permitted to attend the meeting, taking the Covid-19 regulations into account. After the meeting the union representatives addressed members and it was agreed to call off the strike action and the workers agreed to return to their posts.”

He added that another council meeting would be held on June 17, where union representatives would also be invited to attend.

Tsatsimpe explained that the municipality had obtained an interdict to prevent any incidents of intimidation or damage to property.

“We did not interdict the strike action as it is a worker’s right to strike. The court order was obtained to ensure that everyone respects the rule of law and that there is no threat to anyone’s safety.”

He said that it was agreed to remove the suspension of the mayor and municipal manager from the list of demands.

“It was decided that we should focus on issues directly affecting workers. The post of the municipal manager is not a political appointment and if there are any administrative issues it should be reported to the office of the MEC for Coghsta. I am not an employee of the ANC. I was appointed by local government on a contract like any other public servant.”