Uncertainty reigns over end to municipal strike

Friday, July 31, 2009

Pretoria - It's still uncertain as to whether the strike by the municipal workers will come to an end this afternoon.

According to the South African Local Government Association (Salga) and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) a deal was struck on Thursday night and the agreement will be signed on Friday afternoon.

Salga spokesperson Mogomotsi Mogodiri told BuaNews on Friday the parties are to meet and sign the agreement. "We cannot divulge as to who had agreed and who did not agree, we are waiting," said Mogodiri.

However, the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) has denied media reports that they have suspended the strike and that an agreement had been reached with the employer.

According to Samwu General Secretary Mthandeki Nhlapho the strike has not been suspended and negotiations with the employer are continuing.

"We have not yet reached an agreement with the employer; we are still consulting," said Mr Nhlapho told BuaNews on Friday.

Since Monday, thousands of municipal workers throughout the country downed tools demanding better wage increase. Samwu was demanding a 15 percent salary increase for its members, while fellow union, Imatu was demanding a 13 percent increase.

The protests have affected basic services such as refuse collection and have led to a closure of many licensing stations in several provinces. Some of the striking workers have also damaged property during their mass action.

On Thursday, Cabinet condemned the violent strikes that have swept the country in recent weeks, saying that law enforcement agencies will act against those who act outside the law.

"Cabinet condemns the violence, destruction to property, vandalism and intimidation of innocent citizens that characterised some of the recent community protests and strikes in parts of the country," said Minister for Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency, Collins Chabane, on Thursday, following an ordinary meeting of Cabinet.

He said while government welcomed the right to protest and to withdraw labour in times of disputes, government believes that these demonstrations and protests must be peaceful and within the framework of the law.

"Law enforcement agencies will act against those who act outside the law and the Constitution of the country," Mr Chabane warned.