Despite failing to secure its demands, Samwu has called off the municipal workers' strike, insisting the industrial action "was not a waste of time".
The municipal workers’ strike has been called off by the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), who defended its industrial action saying “it wasn’t a waste of time”.
The strike was ended despite the fact no wage increase was agreed upon after negotiations between union and the employer broke down last week.
Two weeks ago Samwu declared its second municipal strike this year and demanded an 18% increase or R2 000, whichever was greater.
Stayaways and protest marches in Cape Town, Durban and other municipalities around the country drew significant support from municipal workers, but workers in Johannesburg and Pretoria ignored the call to stay away from work due to internal squabbles relating to allegations of financial misconduct among union leaders.
Samwu spokesperson Mthandeki Nhlapo said the decision to end the strike had been taken by the special national executive committee, because members were starting to experience “intimidation” in the form of court interdicts and dismissal threats, he said.
In addition, most members had already started going back to work, although some were prepared to continue with the strike, he said.
Battle isn’t over
Nhlapo condemned employers’ lack of commitment towards ending the strike, which had left communities without services.
He said employers had failed to justify a 6.08% offer for Samwu members while proposing a 7% increase for councillors.
Nhlapo said negotiations would continue with the South African Local Government Bargaining Council.
But Mzwanele Yawa of the South African Local Government Association (Salga) told the Mail & Guardian he was not yet aware of further negotiations.
The 6.08% increase had already been included in workers’ salaries, he said.
Samwu’s spokesperson Tahir Sema then responded that no further negotiations were planned yet, but the union hoped to negotiate with the government employer soon.
“The battle is not over,” he added, saying the strike had not been in vain as workers had expressed their unhappiness with their wage increases.
Sema said that the union would have to do an analysis of why the industrial action failed to bring out tens of thousands of members as it had done in previous years.
“Perhaps it was strike fatigue,” Sema said.
The decision did not affect Samwu’s planned strike action in the water sector, said Samwu’s collective bargaining officer Dale Forbes.
Yawa said Salga was glad the industrial action was over.
“We appreciate we are getting back to stability.”. .