Municipal strike ends as council reaches deal
THE Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) workers’ strike has come to an end after dragging on for a month.
The Rep reported (“Municipal strike”, August 4) that workers affiliated to the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) were demanding 10 months of back pay following a benchmarking exercise last year. At the time, the municipality indicated it would investigate whether there were people who were owed money.
The South African Local Bargaining Council ruled in favour of the payment of the workers.
The Rep reported (“Samwu draws strike battle lines”, August 11) that Samwu Chris Hani district regional secretary Mongalemeli Mancam had said that if the demands were not met, the strike would be escalated.
Mancam said Samwu would render the municipality ungovernable, while the union also called for EMLM executive mayor Lindiwe Gunuza-Nkwentsha and mayoral committee members Xoliswa Xelo and Zukiswa Rhalane to be removed.
In an interview this week, Mancam said following meetings on Friday and Monday, it was agreed workers would be paid the outstanding 10 months’ worth of pay.
“We agreed that all 300 casual workers must be absorbed as permanent employees. However, it will happen in phases of 20 workers. We subjected the issue of ‘no work no pay’ to a committee that will consist of labour, the employer, employee and unions for further discussions that took place on Wednesday and yesterday.”
Mancam said it was expected all workers would be back at work yesterday as some had been waiting for the payment to be reflected in their bank accounts.
Mancam said the municipality should not undermine the workers or infringe on their rights in the future.
“We have not yet met again with the ANC Regional Workers’ Committee (RWC) and are waiting for a follow-up from the meeting last Monday.”
He said the follow-up meeting was supposed to have taken place on Wednesday, but that did not happen. The union would continue to call for the removal of the mayor
and Xelo and Rhalane from their positions, as the strike had been “the result of political and administrative paralysis in the municipality”.
In a press release, Gunuza-Nkwentsha apologised to the communities affected and other stakeholders for the disruption of service delivery, adding that intensive strategies would be employed to hasten sustainable service delivery.
She acknowledged the impact of the strike on society and confirmed that the labour action was at an end.
“We thank the [residents for the] cooperation of stakeholders involved who provided much support to ensure that a lasting solution is reached. We have, as part of conflict management techniques, solicited training for the local labour forum so that it is equipped to manage issues and avoid this kind of labour unrest in the future.”
She said the political leadership was committed to providing the necessary environment for fruitful engagement in the institution as part of deepening democracy.
“Ours is to ensure there is proper political governance aimed at achieving the municipal vision and mission. We continue to be committed to ensure that the ideas and objectives of the municipality are achieved towards improved service delivery.”
She said the patience of the community was appreciated, with the municipality to update the community on plans and progress being made.
“We shall work tirelessly to improve our services for better delivery.”