Salga says eThekwini strike over wage increase demand based on incorrect information

Vehicles drive along a road with refuse piled up in the lane next to them.

Large piles of refuse have been dumped on North Coast Road leading to the road becoming only one lane. Refuse has not been collected for more than a week due to the ongoing municipal workers’ strike. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 6, 2024


Durban - The South African Local Government Association (Salga) in KwaZulu-Natal has warned that the ongoing strike by workers in the eThekwini Municipality, that has caused damage potentially running into millions of rand, is based on incorrect information.

The association of municipalities said the motive put forward for the strike, that the workers in eThekwini be paid a wage similar to what workers in other metros are paid, was based on a fallacy as the other metros have not implemented that wage structure.

Municipal workers in eThekwini, who are members of the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), have been on strike since last week. A court interdict was obtained against the striking workers as the strike has pushed service delivery to the brink.

During a press briefing on Monday, the City said the strike had affected all municipal departments and caused extensive damage to infrastructure. Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda and KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube detailed action being taken to restore normality and called for the arrest and prosecution of those behind the anarchy and damage.

Members of the Executive Committee held an emergency meeting yesterday to discuss the impact of the strike.

The exco members were told that 16 striking workers have been arrested to date and 10 community members were arrested in Verulam yesterday when they started damaging municipal infrastructure during a protest.

Salga KZN said the demand for wage parity was based on false information.

“The verbal demand for the wage curves and categorisation to be implemented is based on misinformation and inaccurate information that the wage curve has been implemented in (Ekurhuleni). This is not factual. The municipalities have yet to implement the new system as it is still subject to negotiations in the bargaining council.

“It is Salga’s understanding through engagements with eThekwini management that the demand is for the wage curves and a categorisation model that is currently being negotiated to be implemented in eThekwini prior to the finalisation of a collective agreement in the bargaining council. The claim by the union that such was implemented in other municipalities is inaccurate,” said the association.

It said the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) was negotiating a uniform system of categorisation and wage curves.

The municipality said Samwu had been issued with an ultimatum that it should demonstrate why workers that are on strike should not be fired.

It said to date 20 workers have been suspended in connection with the protest.

The municipality confirmed that if the issue of the wage curve is the reason for the strike, it was a national competency and it cannot negotiate on it.

EThekwini Municipality councillors said the revelations were not surprising.

DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said: “It is easy for the criminal elements to spread misleading information because the leadership of the municipality is saying nothing.”

Alan Beesley of ActionSA said: “As ActionSA we would not be surprised if the current eThekwini DSW strike is based on incorrect information. Because of incompetence, corruption and factional battles within the ANC-led municipality, all information originating from within the municipality cannot be relied upon. It is a strong possibility that the DSW workers are being used as pawns in a large power battle.”

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said matters around the demand by workers should be finalised soon.

He said the IFP was against the damage to property, threats and violence directed at other workers.

“Damage to infrastructure is extensive and this infrastructure is already fragile and workers know that damaging it means it would take a long time to fix it.”

The Independent Municipal & Allied Trade Union (Imatu), which is not part of the strike, said the categorisation of municipalities and the consequent wage curve was being addressed at a national level.

It said Imatu members were urged to report any threats or intimidation to the Imatu regional office.