The city’s electricity department workers might join the ongoing strike by water and wastewater unit workers from today.
DURBAN - The city’s electricity department workers might join the ongoing strike by water and wastewater unit workers from today.

This is according to Queen Mbatha, vice-chairperson of the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union, who said the municipal workers would not go back to work until their demands were met.

“The workers are angry. We understand why they are angry. This is unfair to them and they told us that they will not go back to work,” said Mbatha.

Mbatha added that grade 4 electricity department workers wanted to join the strike.

Water and wastewater unit workers went on strike last week, demanding salary level upgrades like the Umkhonto weSizwe veterans. They claim the veterans, who were employed in 2016, had been unfairly upgraded from a grade 4 to grade 10 salary level within a year.

Several areas were left without water after workers downed tools and refused to fix water pipes and sewer lines that were damaged during the floods.

Last week, workers also threatened to shut down the supply to Durban’s affluent suburbs if the city failed to meet their wage demands.

“Workers want an immediate raise. We also have some of our workers who told us that they were treated unfairly,” said Mbatha.

SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) eThekwini regional chairperson Abraham Xulu said workers wanted to meet with management.

Xulu said workers had rejected solutions offered by the eThekwini management to deal with salary issue.

“The city management told us that they’re planning to fast-track some of the outstanding grade reviews to ensure employment equity. The employer also said they were planning to provide methods to make sure that they upskill workers so they can be promoted.”

Xulu added that the workers said they did not mind working with their MK vet colleagues, but demanded that they be paid on the same grade.

City spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the municipality was in the process of applying for a court interdict against striking workers.

“The no-work, no-pay policy will have to apply to those striking workers as this strike is illegal. We are worried about the communities who are in desperate need of water.”

He added that the city was trying alternative methods to provide water to areas as some water tanker drivers had also joined the strike.

Mayisela urged striking workers to return to work as the city looked for a way to end the impasse.

He said the city was open to negotiations and dialogue with the workers.

“It’s important that we sit around the table and resolve the impasse. Walking away from negotiations is not going to help anyone, but instead, it is going to cause huge instability in the city,” Mayisela said.