Jo’burg metro police deny joining strike

The Johannesburg metro police department has disputed a claim by the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) that metro police have joined striking council workers in the city in large numbers.

Samwu had issued a statement earlier on Monday claiming 3 000 metro police officers had joined the three-day strike, with only 480 remaining on duty.

However, metro police spokesperson Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the department was not affected by the strike.

”We have a lot of officers on duty and service delivery is not affected. I don’t know where they got their figures from, because we only have 2 500 officers on our payroll and half of them are on duty,” Minnaar said.

The union also claimed about 2 500 workers from the health department and the fire brigade were on strike, with about 600 remaining behind in terms of the minimum service-level agreement.

Council spokesperson Nthatisi Modingoane said things were running smoothly.

”It is early to say, so it will be premature for me to say we are not affected. But 70% of our offices are running smoothly and we are monitoring the strike closely,” he said.

”The City of Johannesburg bosses have bulldozed many systems through that Samwu does not agree with,” said Samwu in a statement explaining the strike. ”The bosses have failed to meet us at the negotiating table to discuss these issues and now they will have to meet Samwu strikers on the streets.”

About 2 000 workers marched to the metro centre earlier in the day, but many dispersed when it started raining just after 1pm and only about 300 remained to hand over a memorandum to a council official.

Some Ekurhuleni municipal workers had joined in the march. Samwu spokesperson Dumisani Langa said they had used their lunch hour to support the striking workers in Johannesburg.

Workers sang and danced along the route with few disruptions. Two people, one carrying a stick and another carrying a firearm and a baton, were asked to leave the march.

The government has come under pressure from trade-union strikes. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) staged a crippling public-service strike in June, and it accuses the government of promoting pro-business policies to the cost of millions of poor South Africans.

Cosatu backs President Thabo Mbeki’s rival Jacob Zuma in the race to lead the African National Congress, which will choose a new leader at its December party conference in Polokwane. — Sapa, Reuters

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