‘STOP THE STRIKE BY TO­MOR­ROW OR ELSE’

EC party leader Os­car Mabuyane lays down the law

Daily Dispatch - - Front Page - ZINE GE­ORGE, TEMBILE SGQOLANA and MAMELA NDAMASE

Metro mayor and man­ager given Fri­day dead­line to end dis­pute

The ANC has is­sued a warn­ing to BCM: “Re­solve this im­passe with work­ers by Fri­day, or we come and take over.”

These were the words of the party’s chair­per­son in the prov­ince, Os­car Mabuyane, who is also the fi­nance MEC, af­ter a heated meet­ing with metro stake­hold­ers on Wed­nes­day.

He in­structed BCM mayor Xola Pakati and his deputy, Zoliswa Matana, to con­vene a labour fo­rum meet­ing on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon “to find a so­lu­tion” to their dif­fer­ences.

By 8pm, when the labour fo­rum meet­ing ended, Pakati and Samwu were tight-lipped. Pakati would only say an of­fer was on the ta­ble but ne­go­ti­a­tions were “sen­si­tive”.

Samwu re­gional sec­re­tary Zolani Ndlela said the par­ties had agreed not to talk to the me­dia. He is set to meet with union mem­bers on Thurs­day.

Mabuyane’s tough stance is likely to have a rip­ple ef­fect in other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties where the Cosatu-af­fil­i­ated Samwu is ag­i­tat­ing, ex­pe­cially in Ko­mani based Enoch Mgi­jima, which is trashed, in lock­down and al­ready un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Mabuyane said: “We have given BCM in­struc­tions that we want ev­ery­thing back to nor­mal by Fri­day. We have told the city man­ager and mayor they must lead. We want them to at­tend to these is­sues. We don’t un­der­stand why they can­not be re­solved.”

He was speak­ing to the Dis­patch af­ter party provin­cial lead­ers sum­moned Samwu to meet with them, Pakati and mu­nic­i­pal man­ager Andile Sih­lahla ear­lier on Wed­nes­day.

The strike, which has left BCM drown­ing in piles of rub­bish, and with mil­lions worth of in­fras­truc­ture dam­aged, is now in its third week.

The work­ers are de­mand­ing a R100,000 “apol­ogy” pay­out each this month af­ter the metro’s fail­ure to im­ple­ment a job eval­u­a­tion process sched­uled to start last year. The union said the cash would be com­pen­sa­tion for the de­lay.

BCM coun­cil­lors, who were at a work­shop at Mpekweni beach re­sort, were sum­moned back to the city to help Pakati re­solve the im­passe.

Mabuyane said al­low­ing the strike to con­tinue for such a long time was ir­re­spon­si­ble.

“When you are de­ployed as a mayor or a mu­nic­i­pal man­ager, you must take re­spon­si­bil­ity and give lead­er­ship.

“These dis­cus­sions date back two years and started with 22 de­mands. We are told 20 of those de­mands were re­solved.

“In some cases all that was re­quired was im­ple­men­ta­tion. We are say­ing to the mayor and the mu­nic­i­pal man­ager, go back to the draw­ing board and have dis­cus­sions with Samwu such that by Fri­day ev­ery­one is back at work.”

The ANC would not al­low thou­sands of BCM res­i­dents to suf­fer, he said. “This bor­ders on trea­son. It is bla­tant sab­o­tage. We can­not deny peo­ple wa­ter and al­low sewage spilling on our streets. The mayor was elected into of­fice to serve our peo­ple and the man­ager is also not play­ing his part. There is an ‘I don’t care’ at­ti­tude from BCM lead­ers. We can’t al­low that. Ac­cept­ing de­ploy­ment comes with tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

The protests saw mu­nic­i­pal in­fras­truc­ture and equip­ment such as traf­fic lights, trucks, and an elec­tric­ity sup­ply sub­sta­tion be­ing torched, re­sult­ing in black­outs in sev­eral parts of city. In other ar­eas wa­ter in­fras­truc­ture was van­dalised, caus­ing wa­ter out­ages for weeks.

Mabuyane said the dan­ger of al­low­ing the may­hem to con­tinue, as had hap­pened in Amahlathi and Great Kei, was that busi­ness suf­fered. “What if Mercedes-Benz and Nestlé pack up and go? Hun­dreds of peo­ple lose jobs. If BCM work­ers think they won’t be af­fected, they are liv­ing a lie be­cause once there is no rev­enue, there won’t be money to pay their salaries.

“The same thing hap­pened in Great Kei with mass ac­tion. “It will also hap­pen here.” A gen­eral meet­ing of work­ers is set for the East Lon­don City Hall at 11am on Thurs­day.

At 1pm on Wed­nes­day Samwu re­gional sec­re­tary Zolani Ndlela told hun­dreds of work­ers out­side the East Lon­don City Hall: “What­ever they ta­ble to­day we will con­sult with you to­mor­row when East Lon­don, King William’s Town and Mdantsane work­ers are un­der one roof. We start ne­go­ti­at­ing at R100,000,” he said to ap­plause.

In Enoch Mgi­jima, Samwu strik­ers vowed to in­ten­sify their week-long un­pro­tected strike. Samwu lashed out at mayor Si­sisi To­lashe for say­ing the “no work, no pay” rule ap­plied.

To­lashe said this was the law govern­ing un­pro­tected strikes.

The strike, which started last Thurs­day, wors­ened this week with mu­nic­i­pal em­ploy­ees be­ing chased from work sta­tions and the Ko­mani City Hall be­ing locked, bring­ing mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices to a stand­still.

The work­ers are de­mand­ing har­mon­i­sa­tion of salaries ac­cross the three for­mer mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Tsol­wana, Inkwanca and Lukhanji that were merged to form Enoch Mgi­jima. This will come to R8m for 2018-19.

Samwu sec­re­tary in Ko­mani Thabo Ng­wane said: “If the em­ployer won’t ful­fil their coun­cil res­o­lu­tion to pay us be­tween Septem­ber and De­cem­ber, we will be forced to de­mand the back­pay they owe since Au­gust 2016 and that is R40m.”

Ko­mani res­i­dent Buzani Gcin­isa said: “We have elec­tric­ity prob­lems, street lights are not work­ing and our refuse was col­lected four weeks ago. It is time to stop pay­ing for ser­vices we are not get­ting.”

May­oral of­fice spokesper­son But­sha Lali said out of 700 work­ers, about 250 salaries qual­i­fied for up­grades. “Coun­cil re­solved in Au­gust work­ers have to be paid premised on avail­abil­ity of funds.”

This bor­ders on trea­son. It is bla­tant sab­o­tage. We can­not deny peo­ple wa­ter and al­low sewage ... on our streets

Pic­ture: MICHAEL PINYANA

STRAIGHT TALK: Fi­nance MEC and party leader Os­car Mabuyane warns unions that de­stroy­ing busi­ness op­er­a­tions means no more jobs.

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