Thousands of municipal workers set to strike

Up to 60 000 workers aligned with the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) will stage a nationwide strike following a failed application by their employer to halt the industrial action, a union official said on Sunday.

“The strike will start on Monday,” said Samwu deputy general secretary Walter Theledi.

This comes after the Labour Court on Saturday struck from its roll an interdict lodged by the South African Local Government Association (Salga) on Friday.

Salga warned workers that the court did not dismiss the case, but had struck it from the roll due to a lack of urgency.

However the court did not pronounce on whether the strike was protected or not.

“Should workers strike on Monday it is at their own risk, and should the court later decide that the strike is illegal and unprotected, workers can be dismissed according to the Labour Relations Act,” warned Salga CEO Xolile George.

But Samwu disagreed.

“[What the court pronounced] means you have lost … so the strike will continue,” said Theledi.

Job evaluation system
Salga, he said, was defying the court’s decision by
“threatening” Samwu members.

“They could not stop the strike on legal grounds now they are trying to threaten our members.”

Municipal workers are demanding a job evaluation system to grade all jobs in the local government sector.

The union also accused Salga of firing workers, thereby undermining service delivery and wasting money on expensive lawyers to handle labour related cases.

Salga said it was surprised with the union’s demands as there were already agreements signed by itself and Samwu.

“There is an existing agreement on the disciplinary code and it expires in 2012,” George said.

To change the agreement, he said, the union would have to wait until the existing agreement expired.

He said people who worked in departments rendering essential services would not allowed to participate in the strike action. – Sapa

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