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Water workers back at work

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It was alleged that the workers were also responsible for sabotaging the municipality by causing water leaks

THE THIRTY suspended Sol Plaatje municipal workers employed in the waterworks section will return to work today after their suspensions were uplifted.

This follows a meeting between the municipality and the workers’ union, the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), yesterday.

Earlier this week the workers were suspended for three months following allegations of misconduct. They were suspended with full pay and benefits after refusing to do their work and accusing the municipality of exploitation.

Sabotaging

It was alleged that the workers were also responsible for sabotaging the municipality by causing water leaks.

Samwu yesterday lashed out at the municipality following the suspensions, expressing disgust that the workers were expected to do work that they are not being paid for.

According to the union, overtime pay is not being paid despite the fact that workers are expected to provide key services, including fixing leaking pipes, after hours. Samwu added that the workers are willing to go the extra mile.

The union also questioned how work will be done in the waterworks section if the number of suspended employees is far more than those left and pointed to the possibility of the work being outsourced by the municipality.

The municipality, however, denied any attempt to outsource the service.

Samwu stated that the workers were being punished for lodging a grievance against their foreman, whom they felt was irregularly appointed.

Union secretary Nomathamsanqa Banda welcomed the decision to lift the suspensions, but stated that the workers still face disciplinary action.

“According to the letter reversing the suspensions, grey areas relating to the contract of employment and job description of the employees will be looked at by the human resource section.”

Banda previously said that the grounds for the suspensions were baseless “as it is common knowledge that the water pipes, just like the rest of the infrastructure, had aged”.

“These suspensions were just an attempt to direct attention away from the issue of the appointment of the foreman. But we are going to bring it up,” she said.

Municipal spokesperson Sello Matsie yesterday confirmed that management and the union had agreed to allow the workers to return to work with immediate effect.

“However, the disciplinary process will continue and the grievance against the foreman will be processed accordingly.”