Strike talks go on
Mayor apologises for lack of service delivery caused by labour unrest
AS THE strike by South African Municipal Workers’ Union members in the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) enters its fourth week, the union has entered discussions with the ANC at regional level while executive mayor Lindiwe Gunuza-Nkwentsha has apologised for the interruption to service delivery.
Samwu members are demanding 10 months’ worth of back pay to workers after the municipality paid out for two months following a benchmarking exercise. A subsequent decision by the South African Local Government Bargaining Council went in favour of the workers, with the award made in June this year and with payment of the outstanding monies due by the end of July this year. The Rep reported (“Samwu draws strike battle lines”, August 11) that Samwu Chris Hani regional secretary Mongameli Mancam had indicated that the municipality would be made “ungovernable” if the matter was not resolved.
Samwu has also called for the removal of Gunuza-Nkwentsha and mayoral committee members Xoliswa Xelo and Zukiswa Rhalane.
The municipality indicated at the time that it was looking into the matter and called for calm and maturity from the workers and for them to refrain from participating in any illegal activities.
Mancam said this week that part of the reason the workers were on strike, was poor communication between the mayoral committee and management with the union and workers.
“This week we have been in meetings since Monday and they are scheduled to end today with the ANC Regional Working Committee (RWC). We are reasoning with them that it is their deployees who are the reason for instability and strikes. They did not pay the workers as per the arbitration agreement, when both the employer and employee signed that the employees would be paid in July.”
He said the municipality had admitted in media reports that they owed the workers the money, but yet had failed to commit to when it would be paid. He reiterated the call for the removal of the mayor and two mayoral committee members, saying there was a lack of political leadership in the municipality.
He said there had been a call for essential services workers to return to work, “but the apartheid strategy of divide and rule will not work”.
He said there was “no such essential services policy recognised on local or national level”.
“Concerning the ‘no work no pay’ principle – workers are used to that and we will not be swayed from the strike until our demands are met. The workers were provoked to go on an unprotected strike.
“The mayor is just dancing to the music of the DA, which is saying no work no pay.”
In a statement on Wednesday, Gunuza-Nkwentsha apologised to EMLM residents for the ongoing labour unrest which had halted service delivery.
“We are engaging all relevant stakeholders to find a lasting solution to bring back stability as soon as possible. We shall outline the measures of bringing about speedy service delivery on issues of refuse removal, electrical provisioning, general infrastructure maintenance and the implementation of the Service Delivery Budget Implementation Plan 2017-18.”
She said the municipality remained focused on moving forward to realising its vision and mission. Debriefing sessions to gain input from all stakeholders would be called to bring about stability.
She said it was hoped that the stalemate with the labour leadership would soon be resolved.
They did not pay the workers as per the arbitration agreement signed by both parties