Municipal strike making people sick

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Copy of ST secNU Zamdela protest36 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS A young man makes his way through sewerage near his home in Zamdela township. Picture: Itumeleng English

Johannesburg - Zamdela residents are sick of the municipality workers’ strike - and are getting sicker from the dirty water and piles of rubbish it has created.

As the strikers and their employers from the Metsimaholo municipality argue over whether the industrial action is even allowed, residents are so angry that it has led to violence, looting and widespread power and water cuts.

On July 10, the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) officially started their strike in Metsimaholo municipality, after four weeks of failed negotiations and a Labour Court interdict.

“The strike continues until the issues raised are addressed,” Sandla Mahlati, the Samwu chairman at Metsimaholo, said on Thursday .

Mahlati said their major demands included improved life insurance policies, salaries and promotions, and the biannual replacement of protective clothing and equipment. However, they are also concerned with “selective and irregular promotions”, and grievance procedures.

But the municipality has said the strike should not be happening. “The core of the issue is that the strike is illegal (unprotected),” said Metsimaholo municipality spokesman Gino Alberts.

He showed The Star a copy of a Johannesburg Labour Court interdict handed down on June 27, which is valid until October 9.

Mahlati argued it was irrelevant as they had served the municipality with a second notice to strike after the interdict was granted, which Alberts was unaware of.

Although both parties said on Thursday they were willing to negotiate, no meetings have been scheduled.

The latest victims are Zamdela residents who have been without water and electricity since Wednesday.

“As residents, we are sick and tired of this thing,” said Kenny Pule.

He said he was frustrated because water had flooded his home and he was worried about his 20-month-old daughter. “She used to play in this water and she became sick.”

“It’s not clean around here,” said Pule’s blind neighbour, Mananki Molahleni.

Alberts said they were not to blame as they had not cut the power or water and were also not experiencing any technical issues.

He urged the community to report any sightings of people at sub-stations or water pumps to police.

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