Pietermaritzburg – Howick residents have been left in the lurch by protesting uMngeni municipal staff who downed tools last week.
According to Democratic Alliance Ward 2 councillor Janis Holmes, she has been inundated with hundreds of calls from residents complaining about the municipality.
Holmes said that on Monday last week, South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) members embarked on a go-slow in various municipal divisions such as refuse, treasury and traffic.
Holmes said residents have been complaining that their refuse is not being collected and treasury offices are closed, preventing them from purchasing prepaid electricity or paying accounts. Holmes said motorists are also concerned about impending penalties, because with municipal traffic and licensing departments closed, they cannot renew their licences.
“Residents have been calling and saying that when they try and get hold of the municipality for assistance, nobody answers. The protesters are calling it a go-slow but it is an outright strike. Nobody is really sure what the workers’ grievances are,” Holmes said.
“It is completely unfair that services are being denied to residents by an illegal work stoppage at the municipality and that some staff members are being intimidated into not working. Samwu agreed to give management five days to respond to their submission at a meeting of the uMngeni Local Labour Forum last week and it appears that they are not honouring this agreement.”
Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Samwu deputy president John Dlamini denied there was any protest action or a go-slow at the municipality before outlining the workers’ five grievances.
According to Dlamini, the municipality is not filling vacancies, is not providing protective clothing and not providing any skills development.
Dlamini also alleged there is also widespread favouritism within the municipality and that management are outsourcing contracts for municipal services to private companies outside of the uMngeni district.
Municipal spokesperson Thando Mgaga said management have discussed the issues with the union in a meeting held last week and the matters are receiving attention.
Apologising for the inconvenience caused, he said municipal services are expected to resume today.