The South African Local Government Association (Salga) was expected to approach the Labour Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday to halt a countrywide municipal workers’ strike.
The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) opted for industrial action to push for a range of demands, mostly related to getting market-related salaries for municipal workers. This includes setting the pay rate for municipal managers and councillors it said were being paid above market rate.
Salga warned, however, that it would not be able to increase salaries as required.
It said if it acceded to Samwu’s demands, it would not have money left to pay for the services supplied by municipalities.
Although many of the marches around the country were reported to have ended without incident, some councils reported that non-striking workers were intimidated and marchers tipped rubbish bins into streets.
Police in East London fired rubber bullets when concrete bins were pushed into the traffic in Oxford Road, leading to the arrest of 10 people, who will face public-violence charges.
In Ekurhuleni, officials also reported vandalism of municipal property, while Tshwane said it had experienced few disruptions.
Waste management workers and drivers started work late, but the city said it would hire outside contractors to catch up with the waste backlog if necessary.
Only 20 out of 230 buses did not run, with the council attributing this to breakdowns or sick leave. However, in Johannesburg bus commuters were left stranded as Metrobus was not operating.
Further marches are planned around the country this week in what Samwu national spokesperson Tahir Sema described as an “indefinite” strike.
Samwu also wants to stop municipalities from using expensive outside lawyers to resolve labour disputes.
It believes these measures would go some way to addressing corruption in municipalities, which was sparking protests against the lack of service delivery.
It said it had been trying to finalise the matter for seven years. — Sapa