Economist: Municipal strike costing SA R15m a day

The strike by municipal workers is costing the country in the region of R15-million a day, an economist said on Tuesday.

“The problem is, it’s very difficult to work out [the cost]. I can’t work out the damage of all the shops and the traders. It’s a hassle factor.

“But the cost is around R15-million a day in workers’ wages, I guess,” economist Mike Schussler told Sapa.

He said the longer the strike continues, the more the cost escalates.

“By the second week it becomes a huge problem, because then a person pays out of his own pocket to remove his rubbish.

“All these factors have to be considered, so R15-million is a little simplistic, but it’s the best we can do at the moment,” said Schussler.

Figures on the number of municipal workers arriving for work are also different.

The unions claim “overwhelming” support, saying more than 150 000 out of a workforce of 190 000 did not show up work.

But the employer, the South African Local Government Association (Salga), says only 40% of workers participated in the stay away.

A strike by members of the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union entered its second day on Tuesday.

Thousands of workers took to the streets on Monday to press for better wages, harassing hawkers and emptying rubbish bins.

Unions are demanding a 15% increase and Salga has tabled a new offer of 13%.

Church leaders step in
Meanwhile, church leaders have established a council to help the government with service delivery problems, a statement said on Tuesday.

About 20 religious leaders and the chief whip of Parliament, Mathole Motshekga, on Monday attended a meeting convened by Pastor Ray McCauley of Rhema Ministries.

“Religious leaders have decided to form an action-based structure named the National Interfaith Leaders Council [NILC],” the council said in a statement.

“The establishment of this council is also in response to President Jacob Zuma’s call for the religious community to partner with government to establish a cohesive and caring society.”

McCauley said at the meeting there had been a lack of “a strong and proactive religious leadership structure to respond to the social challenges of the poor and vulnerable”.

“The meeting offered to assist the government in intervening in the rampant leadership disputes fuelling the current protests and lawlessness in various communities.”

The NILC requested a meeting with Zuma to discuss its “visions and programmes of work”.—Sapa

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