Union pleads with striking eThekwini staff to return to work

A large pile of refuse at the corner of a street in the Durban CBD.

People walk past a large pile of refuse bags left on a street corner due to the ongoing eThekwini municipal strike. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/Independent Media

Published Mar 12, 2024


The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) has asked striking members in the eThekwini Municipality to “return” to work.

The strike started more than two weeks ago, has crippled service delivery and led to attacks against city workers.

It is largely based on the demand by workers to be paid the same salary as workers at their level in other Metros such as Gauteng and Tshwane.

In a letter seen by The Mercury, supplied to councillors in the eThekwini Executive Committee, the union said it recognises that demands by the workers are genuine and it would continue to fight to address the matter raised by members.

“It is necessary to alert members that the interim interdict, obtained by the municipality against the striking workers, remains in place until the return date where we shall argue for dismissal of the interdict. Members are urged to continue to report for work at their depots on daily basis. Whenever there is any update the office bearers shall convene membership meetings and shall issue communication,” said the letter.

Councillors who are members of the executive committee said they were informed during a meeting on Tuesday morning that the strike was over and people were returning to work.

The councillors were also briefed about the gruesome nature of violence that has been directed at the city workers that did not take part in industrial action.

They learned that since the strike began, a manager in Pinetown, who has not been named, was attacked in her office, two workers were shot, one was stabbed in the head and another was apparently attacked and later died. The names of the staff have not yet been disclosed.

On Tuesday morning parts of the Durban CBD burned. There were reports of more strike-related chaos with messages on social media warning members of the public to stay away from areas such as Greyville.

“The Mercury” understands this was a protest by community members demanding restoration of services that were disrupted by the strike.

DA councillor Yogis Govender said they were informed that the strike was over and workers were returning to work.

Govender described details on attack of workers, that she was aware of, “In one incident, there is a gruesome picture of a water tanker driver who is covered in blood. He had been stabbed in the head after coming from filling water at the hospital.”

ANC councillor Nkosenhle Madlala said the party would monitor the day and assess if the workers were reporting to duty.

Speaking on the workers that were attacked, he said it was important that the city helped those that have been victims of violence with counselling because they would have been traumatised by what happened to them and what they witnessed.

Samwu have been approached for comment.

This is a developing story.

The Mercury