Strike talks go on

Mayor apol­o­gises for lack of ser­vice de­liv­ery caused by labour un­rest

The Rep - - FRONT PAGE - SIMTEMBILE MGIDI and SONJA RAASCH

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

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