Samwu members are planning to stage a sit-in in the municipal manager’s office at Sol Plaatje Municipality.
SOUTH African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) members are planning to stage a sit-in in the municipal manager’s office at Sol Plaatje Municipality next week.
Possible strike action may also delay the planned water shutdown next week.
Samwu local chairperson Daily Semau stated that the municipal manager, Goolam Akharwaray, had failed to address their concerns over alleged irregular appointments, irregular expenditure and a shortage of manpower and tools of the trade.
“We waited for him for two hours on Thursday (yesterday), only to be told that our grievances were not a priority and he instructed us to vacate his office. He cannot choose to consult with the union, it is his job,” said Semau.
Samwu local secretary Nomathamsanqa Banda added that the contract of the waterworks manager was in dispute.
“His contract was supposed to have ended on October 31, while it was extended for another three months. Work that the municipality has the capacity to do, is commissioned to sub-contractors and acquaintances. The workmanship is sub-standard as the leaks and water shutdowns are continuing. Work is regularly done on the 900mm and 600mm pipeline and yet nothing is being fixed,” Banda pointed out.
She stated that should members decide to embark on strike action, staff would not assist in repairs to the water pipeline that was scheduled for November 18-21.
“We will sit inside the municipal manager’s office indefinitely until he addresses our concerns.”
Workers explained that the waterworks section was understaffed and under-resourced.
“There are only two standing bakkies and three pipefitters to attend to all the jobs in an expanding city. It is not that we are lazy or don’t want to work – we are frustrated as we do not have the tools of the trade to do our jobs. Yet, we are forever blamed if anything goes wrong.”
Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson Sello Matsie said that the local authority would still communicate to the public the best suitable time for repairs to take place.
“The community should not be threatened by the withholding of labour,” said Matsie. “It is incorrect to apportion blame on individuals.
“From time to time, depending on the work schedule and the extent of the required work, we use different approaches – including the use of internal capabilities and, if needs be, outside or private contractors with specialised equipment and skills.”
Matsie disputed claims from the union that only managerial positions and no blue-collar worker posts were advertised.
“Appointments and positions are advertised both internally and externally. Appointments are the prerogative of management.”