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eThekwini Municipality electricity contractors say there will be 'war' in Durban if contracts are not reinstated

eThekwini Municipality electricity contractors say there will be 'war' in Durban if contracts are not reinstated. File picture of Durban.

eThekwini Municipality electricity contractors say there will be 'war' in Durban if contracts are not reinstated. File picture of Durban.

Published Jan 7, 2022

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DURBAN - ELECTRICITY contractors who had been employed by the eThekwini Municipality have given the city’s political leadership until midday today to meet their demands, which include reinstating their contracts with immediate effect, or deal with the consequences.

The contracts have expired and the city was in the process of awarding “new contracts”, but that process was stopped after complaints were lodged.

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Their warning is the second in as many days. On Wednesday the contractors warned of “war” in the streets of Durban should the city appoint new contractors to replace them.

Furthermore, the contractors appear to have entered into a pact that none of them should accept renewed contracts unless all the contracts were renewed, as “an injury to one is injury to all”.

The contractors have been protesting for the past three days. On Tuesday they delivered a memorandum to the city hall and they continued to protest outside the electricity unit’s offices on Wednesday and yesterday.

They complained that after years of service, they were told abruptly on December 24 last year that their contracts had expired.

They said they found the manner and timing of the communication dehumanising.

Monwabisi Bandile Sibiya, the president of the eThekwini Electrical Workforce, said they had been informed that they would get a response from the city’s political administration by midday today.

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“If we do not get that response, it will be a clear sign to us that they too have misled us, and that will spark anger and fury they cannot contain among the workers.

“We want all our demands that we had submitted in the memorandum to be met,” he said.

The list of demands includes to be put back to work immediately.

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“It’s January and the kids are going back to school. We live hand to mouth. We are just employees, so we do not have the financial muscle to sustain ourselves while management is gambling with our jobs,” said the memorandum.

The contractors have also alleged that some staff members in the unit have their own contractors that they assign jobs to and are illegally benefiting from.

They alleged part of the reason why their contracts were ended so abruptly was because managers were looking to push through contractors they preferred.

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The memorandum bemoans the manner in which they were informed that their contracts had expired.

“We request to be treated like humans, with respect. It is very easy for the municipality to tell us on the last day in the morning that the contract has not been renewed and we must go back home. What about our families that depend on our salaries, how do we tell our kids that there is no money to take them back to school?”

Sibiya said the workers were concerned about the impact this was having on the community.

“If you see the number of faults reported, you can see that the municipal staff are struggling alone,” he said.

Mayoral spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa said the memorandum was being attended to.

“We will not conduct our engagements with stakeholders through the media, we will meet with them.”

THE MERCURY

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