Home News Striking municipal workers seek to bring Sol to a standstill

Striking municipal workers seek to bring Sol to a standstill

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Sol Plaatje Municipality employees embarked on strike action on Tuesday and aim to bring the local authority to a standstill until next week

Municipal workers gathered at the Civic Centre. Picture: Soraya Crowie

SERVICE delivery is expected to be brought to a standstill at the Sol Plaatje Municipality due to the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) strike action that threatens to drag on for the entire week.

Hundreds of municipal workers gathered at the Civic Centre on Tuesday morning as they embarked on the first day of strike action.

This follows a meeting between Samwu and the municipality on Monday, at which the municipality reportedly failed to commit to meet Samwu’s long-standing demands.

The workers have demanded the immediate implementation of a Covid-19 danger allowance, a 6.5 salary increase, overtime payment, the permanent appointment of contract workers and a nights out allowance for traffic officers.

The workers indicated on Tuesday that they would bring all municipal service points to a standstill until Monday next week, as they expected to join Cosatu’s national strike on Wednesday before continuing with their own strike action on Thursday and Friday.

The municipality’s licensing centre, housing offices, refuse collection service, rates tellers and workshops have been closed and employees were told to leave the premises.

While a group of singing workers burned tyres at the municipality’s doorstep, the local secretary of Samwu, Nomathamsanqa Banda, described the strike action as peaceful.

The police will monitor the situation throughout the week.

Banda said that the union will only start negotiating with Sol Plaatje Municipality on Monday, after bringing the local authority to a complete standstill for the week.

One of the striking workers indicated that the last time they received their overtime pay was in 2019.

“We are sick and tired of empty promises. We will only back off if the municipality starts implementing the 6.5% increase. It has to be backdated from July,” said the worker.

The Sol Plaatje Municipality is adamant that the strike action is “illegal”.

A letter, signed by the acting municipal manager, Boy Dhluwayo, emerged during Tuesday’s strike action, instructing all striking municipal employees to return to work with immediate effect or face serious consequences.

According to the letter, the strike action is illegal and unlawful as no strike certificate was obtained from the SA Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC).

Banda, however, dismissed the contents of the letter and said that they do have a strike certificate, which they handed to the patrolling police officers.

“This municipality will stand still until next week unless the municipality gives us a commitment to start implementing our demands today,” said Banda.

“There is always no money to pay the workers but there is money to hold internal disciplinary hearings, to outsource, and to make irregular payments.

“There is always money to be stolen and for the so-called directors to pay their children who are sitting at home.”

According to Banda, the municipality was aware of the strike action, but tried to convince Samwu not to go ahead with it during Monday’s meeting.

“There is money to pay the workers, we want it. That money is due to the workers.

“If there is no money, then they would have used the skills within the municipality instead of outsourcing.”