No end to strike

Streets full of lit­ter as un­rest con­tin­ues

The Rep - - FRONT PAGE - BY BHONGO JA­COB

AS the Lukhanji mu­nic­i­pal strike en­ters its sixth week, it seems there is lit­tle hope of a res­o­lu­tion in the near fu­ture. Streets filled with dumped refuse this week bore tes­ti­mony to the con­tin­ued dis­sent of work­ers fol­low­ing an un­ful­filled agree­ment be­tween the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and the South African Mu­nic­i­pal Work­ers’ Union (Samwu) on back­pay em­a­nat­ing from the bench­mark­ing for salary struc­tures.

On Wed­nes­day, strik­ing work­ers marched through the CBD and over­turned refuse bins left in their wake.

As a re­sult, four peo­ple were ar­rested, with Ko­mani sta­tion com­mis­sioner Colonel Mzoli Kopolo, say­ing that by the time po­lice ar­rived on the scene lit­ter had al­ready been scat­tered.

“The po­lice did not wit­ness it but some peo­ple came for­ward and four ar­rests have been made with var­i­ous charges laid.” More ar­rests were ex­pected this week.

Mu­nic­i­pal man­ager Nol­wan­dle Giqba said she had ex­plained to the work­ers dur­ing a meet­ing last week that their griev­ances would be dis­cussed in a coun­cil meet­ing in the new Enoch Mgi­jima Mu­nic­i­pal­ity next week.

She did not com­ment on whether the mu­nic­i­pal­ity had laid any crim­i­nal charges against the work­ers, par­tic­u­larly in the light of a court in­ter­dict which pre­vents them from be­ing near the town hall.

Samwu re­gional sec­re­tary Mongameli Man­cam said the work­ers protest ac­tion this week had been mo­ti­vated “by Gqiba’s fail­ure to at­tend their meet­ing on Tues­day and the clean­ing of the town by a pri­vate com­pany hired by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“The strike had been sus­pended but the work­ers were an­gered by Gqiba’s fail­ure to at­tend to their meet­ing on Tues­day. We sus­pended the strike on a lead­er­ship level when we as­sessed the im­pact of the strike and we took a de­ci­sion that we will look for a so­lu­tion next week when there is a new coun­cil elected.

“The strike has been go­ing on for a long time and it is also af­fect­ing the strik­ers.”

Work­ers were an­gered that a pri­vate com­pany was clean­ing up the street at the cost of the lo­cal au­thor­ity, which means they have money to pay these com­pa­nies but not the work­ers.”

It was hoped that the new coun­cil of the merged Enoch Mgi­jima Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, which will in­clude Lukhanji, would re­solve the mat­ter, he said, adding that work­ers were de­mand­ing that Gqiba leave the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Samwu were con­sult­ing at­tor­neys about the ar­rests of their mem­bers.

Man­cam also ac­cused DA mem­bers who went on a clean­ing cam­paign last week for un­der­min­ing them, with DA cau­cus leader Chris de Wet re­fut­ing Man­cam’s claims as be­ing dis­re­spect­ful to the peo­ple of Ko­mani. “We are not un­der­min­ing any­one.

“We are here as the DA to serve the peo­ple of Ko­mani. All we are do­ing is clean­ing our town which is in a mess, it is un­healthy and un­hy­gienic.

“They (the union) must fol­low the cor­rect pro­ce­dures. With all due re­spect to the peo­ple who are strik­ing, they have no re­spect for the res­i­dents of our town.’

Gqiba said she called a meet­ing last Thurs­day to ne­go­ti­ate with the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee and ad­dressed work­ers on Fri­day. On Mon­day they had an­other meet­ing. Tues­day was a pub­lic hol­i­day, there was no work, and I did not know of any meet­ing. They must show me the in­vi­ta­tion.

Gqiba con­firmed that a pri­vate com­pany had been hired by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to clean the town.

“While they are still on strike there are ser­vices to be ren­dered to the com­mu­nity be­cause these are ratepay­ers. The mu­nic­i­pal­ity has a bud­get and while they are strik­ing the town must be cleaned.”

While Man­cam said work­ers were an­gry, so­cial me­dia was abuzz with irate res­i­dents say­ing they were tired of the mess and the un­re­solved sit­u­a­tion.

Pic­ture: ZOLILE MENZELWA

A dirty route WHAT A MESS: Prince Al­fred Street on Wed­nes­day as the Lukhanji mu­nic­i­pal strike lingers on

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