Municipal workers march countrywide

The impact of the nationwide South African Municipal Workers’ Union strike started showing by noon in Johannesburg on Monday, with reports of buses not running in the city.

Reports on how many people decided to stay away from work, and which other services were affected, were not immediately available. In the meantime, Metrobus advised commuters to make other arrangements until the industrial dispute was resolved.

Emergency services spokesperson Percy Morokane said there was 100% attendance among paramedics and fire-brigade staff.

“We applaud them for heeding the call to come work,” he said.

Traffic in the Johannesburg city centre was disrupted as the strikers marched from Newtown to Braamfontein to hand over a memorandum of their demands.

In Cape Town, early reports said refuse was being collected in most areas, but a fuller picture of the impact of the strike would only be known later, city spokesperson Kylie Hatton said.

In Durban, Samwu secretary Jaycee Ncanana warned that “no service will be regarded as essential during this strike”.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation reported in Limpopo that more than 8 000 members of the union would demonstrate outside various municipal offices across the province, according to provincial chairperson Mamaile Manthata.

Minor incidents
In Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg, the metro said there had been reports of minor incidents, the most common being the alleged intimidation of non-strikers. It warned that anyone from an essential service—such as emergency services, healthcare or water—would face disciplinary action.

Samwu decided on the no-work-no-pay strike to push for its demand that middle- and lower-income employees’ salaries be re-evaluated and adjusted to market-related amounts.

Municipalities should no longer hire consulting lawyers to deal with disciplinary cases, which Samwu considered a waste of money, as there was internal capacity to do so.

It wanted councillors and municipal managers’ remuneration to be evaluated and set, so they could not “waste” money by setting high salaries that were not market related, or award themselves perks that drained municipal coffers.

Samwu said this would help address corruption, a core concern expressed during service delivery protests.

The South African Local Government Association (Salga) said while it agreed there were historical flaws in the pay scales, the equality Samwu was seeking would exceed the municipal budgets capped by the Treasury.—Sapa

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