Samwu draws strike battle lines
WHILE the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) is adamant their strike will not end until all their demands are met, the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality has called for maturity and stability in dealing with the labour issue at hand.
The Rep reported “Municipal strike”, August 4) that Samwu was demanding 10 months’ back pay following a benchmarking exercise last year.
The money was supposed to have been paid by last month.
Samwu Chris Hani regional secretary Mongameli Mancam said the municipality had not met its obligation to back pay monies owed for 12 months, “although we had negotiated broadly with the mayoral committee, management and local labour forum”.
Mancam said the mayoral committee sat twice last week and on Monday this week and management was investigating whether Samwu’s claims were legitimate concerning benchmarking.
Mancam said there were funds in the municipality that could be used to pay workers.
He claimed the municipality had R60-million in equitable shares from National Treasury.
“They must start paying immediately out of that money.”
He said decisions taken in the Local Labour Forum were final.
“Every party is represented – the politicians, management, unions in municipal sector in the LLF – no one can challenge that decision.”
Other demands raised were the absorption of municipal and casual workers as permanent employees, placement of workers in the right organogram and a move from grade four to grade six rating in terms of the salaries of the workers.
If the demands were not met, the strike would be escalated, with the local Samwu branch in talks with other municipalities for support.
Mancam said Samwu would render the local municipality “ungovernable . . . there will be no service delivery.”
Samwu also asked for EMLM executive mayor Lindiwe Gunuza-Nkwentsha and mayoral committee members Xoliswa Xelo and Zukiswa Rhalaneto be removed, “because they don’t have political vision”.
In a statement by Gunuza-Nkwentsha on behalf of the municipality, she confirmed that the back pay figures had been less than they should have been following a settlement with former Lukhanji Municipality employees for the rectification of salary grades in 2016.
“The matter, after discussions between internal stakeholders and the local labour forum was referred to the Local Government Bargaining Council for arbitration. It was then agreed that it be verified which staff members were paid incorrectly and such members be compensated.”
She said the calculations to effect such payments were still being done.
“As soon as the figures have been verified, the affected staff members will be paid. The current strike by the municipal employees is an unprotected strike and therefore illegal.
“We are making an earnest plea to our employees to desist from embarking on illegal activities and to return to their workstations immediately while the administration is finalising the verification process.”
She said problems faced by employees could be resolved without delaying services to the people of EMLM and apologised to residents for any inconvenience.
The municipality had lost millions of rands because of the last strike, resulting in the risk of businesses moving away and people losing jobs.
Nkwentsha said the municipality was willing to work with all stakeholders who had a positive contribution to ensure that the people of EMLM would live in peace and harmony with services delivered.
“We continue to respect the representatives of the employees, Samwu and IMATU [Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union]. In turn, we expect the same respect from them.”
She said a difference of opinion should not degenerate into chaos “as we are charged with delivering services to the people.”
If the demands were not met, the strike would be escalated with the local Samwu branch in talks with other municipalities