Business as usual in most municipalities

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pretoria - Several municipalities have said the first day of strike action by Samwu members has resulted in minimal disruptions to services.

This as the mass action entered its second day on Tuesday, with employers refusing to budge. More than 80% of workers in Gauteng reported for duty on both days.

The mass action got off to a slow start on Monday morning, partly due to cold weather in most parts of the country.

Members of the SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) and Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) want an 18% increase, provided that the minimum cash adjustment is not less than R2 000, with effect from July 2011.

The unions insist their demand of an 18% increase across the board or R2 000, whichever is greater, "is very necessary to meet the economic hardships that municipal workers suffer."

The SA Local Government Association (Salga) wants to settle between 6% and 7.5%. It says discussions that included Samwu and Imatu concluded a collective agreement on salaries and wages in 2009.

"This provides for a multi-year agreement that commenced with the implementation of a 13% salary increase in 2009, 8.48% in 2010 and 6.08% for the current year. On average, the salary increase for the sector is 9% per annum for the duration of the multiyear agreement."

Salga said it was of the opinion that the demand for 18% was not only "unreasonable" but will impact the budgets of member municipalities adversely.

"If this demand is to be met, the impact thereof will have to be passed on to local communities. This means that the rates and taxes of municipalities will have to increase by 18% as well," the body said.

A spokesperson for the City of Johannesburg said all services, including Pikitup and buses, were operating as normal.

A total of 1 400 employees were absent in Durban, constituting 6.7% of the workforce, says Ethekwini municipal spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng.

"A total of 1 118 essential service employees did not report for work. The majority of these employees are from the Durban Solid Waste (DSW) Unit," he said.

The main disruption was to refuse collection services and problematic areas were Springfield, Pinetown, Shallcross and Tongaat.

The City of Tshwane also said contingency plans were in place should violence erupt.

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