No end to strike
Streets full of litter as unrest continues
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.
A dirty route WHAT A MESS: Prince Alfred Street on Wednesday as the Lukhanji municipal strike lingers on