Johannesburg - The SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) is up in arms after several municipalities across the country failed to pay salaries for workers.
Samwu said on Wednesday it would go on strike unless the 30 municipalities paid their workers.
The union said the cash-strapped municipalities who had failed to pay workers were in Limpopo, the Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape.
The non-payment of workers comes after several municipalities in the North West and KZN were placed under administration.
Samwu said it wanted these municipalities to pay workers immediately, or they would face strike action.
“Samwu therefore demands the immediate payment of all salaries of municipal workers that have not been paid yet. When workers go on strike, municipalities apply the no-work, no-pay principle. As a result, workers are determined to apply the no-pay, no-work principle until such time that their salaries reflect on their bank accounts. We further demand these municipalities compensate workers for any charges and penalties incurred as a result of the late payment,” Samwu said in a statement.
In his reply to the State of the Nation Address debate in Parliament on Wednesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said he was concerned about the state of affairs at some municipalities.
He said the government would be assisting 57 municipalities in distress.
This pledge to help municipalities in financial distress was confirmed by Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
When he was Cogta minister a few years ago, Pravin Gordhan had merged some of the municipalities that were financially unviable.
The Municipal Demarcation Board was going to look at other applications by the department to merge more struggling municipalities.
Samwu said it had been warning of this situation and wanted the 30 municipalities in the seven affected provinces to “start making payments now”.
It said this situation happened even after they had met with officials.
It said Ramaphosa had promised to fix municipalities, but there were those with serious financial problems.
The union said workers could not be rendered hungry and be expected to work. “It was in the best interests of the workers to stop going to work until the payment has been made.”