Avatar photo

By Marizka Coetzer

Journalist


Staff to be axed: Tshwane strike faces dismissal storm

Municipal workers defy Labour Court’s ruling that declared strike illegal.


South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) members involved in the illegal strike in the City of Tshwane face dismissal after many residents were left in prolonged power outages and other public services halted in the second week of the strike for salary increases. A privately employed cleaner agreed to speak anonymously and said she had to look over her back while cleaning the street. “Last week, workers came and told us we are not allowed to clean, but we don’t work for the city, so we must work,” she said. She said she was scared the municipal workers would return…

Subscribe to continue reading this article
and support trusted South African journalism

Access PREMIUM news, competitions
and exclusive benefits

SUBSCRIBE
Already a member? SIGN IN HERE

South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) members involved in the illegal strike in the City of Tshwane face dismissal after many residents were left in prolonged power outages and other public services halted in the second week of the strike for salary increases.

A privately employed cleaner agreed to speak anonymously and said she had to look over her back while cleaning the street.

“Last week, workers came and told us we are not allowed to clean, but we don’t work for the city, so we must work,” she said.

She said she was scared the municipal workers would return to check if she continued working despite their warning.

Equestria resident Koos Joubert said this was the second week he had been without power for more than two days. He said because he and his wife worked from home, they had to run a generator from 8am to 10pm.

“It costs me over R440 for 20 litres of petrol to run the day,” said Joubert, adding he had to buy extra gas to cook because the generator couldn’t run the stove.

“The gas is also about R400 to refill,” he said. Joubert said he ran an online business which was heavily affected by the prolonged power outage.

“Our salary is only so much. If it continues another week, you can do the maths; we won’t be able to afford it any longer. It’s a big chunk out of our salaries,” he said.

Tshwane spokesperson Selby Bokaba said 15 employees have been arrested so far and charged with public violence. They will also face internal charges.

“The city has today issued 41 letters of intention to dismiss striking employees affiliated to Samwu and will also approach the Labour Court on an urgent basis for contempt of court.

“Last Friday, the Labour Court granted the city an interim interdict which declared the strike action unlawful and unprotected, and ordered the striking employees to disperse.

It further restrained those from participating in the unlawful, unprotected strike and performing any acts in the continuance or furtherance thereof,” he said.

Bokaba said the city manager issued multiple ultimatums to the workers to return to work and to desist from intimidating their non-striking colleagues.

“The majority of the employees report for duty but are being prevented, intimidated and victimised by their striking colleagues from executing their duties.

“The city has put in place recovery plans to address the backlog resulting from the illegal strike action. Turnaround times for attending to interruptions will be delayed due to intimidation of employees,” Bokaba explained.

Tshwane mayor Cilliers Brink said employees were working to restore services, despite illegal strikes and intimidation.

“The city has taken measures to enforce the interim court interdict against striking employees and can confirm that, despite the ongoing unprotected strike action by members affiliated to Samwu, most of our employees are on duty and working hard to provide services to residents.

“However, some services remain suspended due to threats and intimidation of working employees. These include several clinics, customer care walk-in centres and A Re Yeng bus operations,” he said.

Brink said day-to-day services, such as power failures, waste collection, pipe leakages and sewer blockages remained impacted in some areas.

“The Tshwane Metro Police Department has been deployed to monitor flashpoints where demonstrations are taking place and to protect employees who are not taking part in the strike,” he said.

Brink said some workers thought that by using violence and intimidation, the city would agree to their demands.

“Our position still stands. Owing to our precarious financial position, we simply cannot afford to implement salary increases,” he said.

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits