Protesting employees of eThekwini Water and Sanitation Department (EWS) angry about their pay abandoned their vehicles on Wednesday. Picture Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA/African News Agency

Durban - Protesting employees of eThekwini Water and Sanitation Department (EWS) angry about their pay, used earthmoving equipment and graders to tear up a section of road outside their offices in Electron Road in Springfield Park.

The workers from the department say that they are being underpaid by the municipality and want to be re-graded for the extra duties they perform.

"We do the job of a driver and supervisor yet we get paid as operators," a worker who did not want to be named told the Daily News.

The workers said their jobs were an essential part of the plumbing operations in the city and wanted to be properly compensated.

 “We have gone through the line management and the mayor, they have known about this since 2016 and we still haven't got any assistance, so if we will not be getting assistance we ask if they can have a look at our pay to ensure we get the money for the work we do, because we do the job of three people, we drive, we operate and supervise," the eThekwini employee said.

Unions representing the workers were locked in meetings with management on Wednesday.

It came after a video showing the workers using municipal vehicles to damage the road outside the offices in front of Metro Police on Tuesday. The video has been widely shared on social media. Many, including the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) questioned why the police did not make any arrests.

Wayne Thring, deputy president of the ACDP said the actions of the protestors cannot be condoned.

"The ACDP respects the Constitutional right of employees to go on strike. These strikes, however, should be balanced by the rights of others; their right to work if they so choose, their right to peace and protection from the criminal elements that all too often rear their ugly heads in the so called peaceful strikes across our nation... What some of these striking workers did can never be condoned. Two employees used municipal owned earthmoving equipment to block and damage roads during their protest. As if this was not enough, it was done in full view of Metro Police officers, who stood by, instead of doing the job and arresting those causing damage to public property," he said.

Metro Police spokesperson Superintendent Parboo Sewpersad said that Metro Police and police monitored the situation but made no arrests.

He could not say why no one was arrested.

Police spokesperson, Colonel Thembeka Mbele said: "A case of Public Violence was opened at Sydenham Police Station but no arrests have been made".

Daily News