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City strikers axed as mayor vows to tackle ill-discipline

The Tshwane Metro Council confirmed yesterday that it had dismissed 1 054 Samwu members who took part in an illegal strike that turned ugly last Thursday.

High-level discussions will be held today between Cosatu, the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) and the ANC’s national executive committee following their dismissal.

Council Speaker Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, at the back, executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa and the head of the community safety division, General Mahlomola Manganye, inspect the guard of honour before the State of the City addres.

Tshwane executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa yesterday called for “swift and decisive action” in dealing with ill-discipline in the municipal bus service and waste management divisions.

In his State of the City address, Ramokgopa said poor industrial relations were a perennial problem in the waste management division, “often resulting in illegal strikes that negatively affect our ability to deliver services”.

There was also a need to stabilise labour relations in the Tshwane Bus Service, he said.

“Management is already handling cases of ill-discipline in the bus service, and we insist on decisive and swift intervention that honours fairness and justice.”

Samwu spokesman Tahir Sema said the union resolved at its meeting yesterday to ask for the ANC to intervene.

“The executive committee (feels) the dismissal of the workers is unacceptable. (If) the ANC fails to intervene, we might consider not taking part in the local government elections,” Sema said.

The union would not rule out the possibility of legal action against the municipality, he said.

“But we are calling for political intervention first because the court process is a protracted procedure.” The management’s attitude towards workers also needed to change. The municipality could not summarily dismiss workers without following the correct procedures, he said.

Ramokgopa said parties had to strike a balance between the constitutional rights of workers and the right of communities to quality service. To this end, the council worked with unions to cut the number of unwarranted strikes that affected services.

“We are on the verge of concluding disciplinary action against some Tshwane Bus Service workers. We hope this will result in a better managed TBS (and) good service to commuters.”

Ramokgopa

said: “Concerted efforts are under way to get to the root of (poor industrial relations in the waste management division), so that we can rid our city of this cancer that threatens to undermine the good work in other areas of service delivery..

“We will intensify our engagement with the representatives of unions to cultivate a different culture and work ethic,” he said.

Turning to the council’s community safety division, Ramokgopa said there was a need to support the metro police by addressing alleged corrupt practices by some officers. “We have intervened with suitable staff re-enforcements to strengthen the leadership of the Central Region”.

Ramokgopa said one of the legislated mandates of the metro police was crime prevention.

Over the past year the metro police had done 745 joint operations, mainly with the SAPS, but sometimes with other state agencies such as home affairs (when dealing with illegal immigrants) and Sars (when dealing with contraband).

“We did way more than 425 joint operations envisaged, which means we are intervening decisively against crime.”

The metro police would continue to strive to bring down road accidents and fatalities and the fight against drunken driving would be stepped up, he said.

A memorandum of agreement had been signed with SABMiller to help build an Alcohol Evidence Centre at the metro police’s offices in Vermeulen Street. It would help secure valid and reliable evidence on the alcohol consumption legally admissible in courts, he said. “The impact should be visible in due course as our conviction rates increase and alcohol-related accidents and fatalities decline.” Patrick Hlahla - Pretoria News

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