Durban - Durban’s central business district (CBD) was brought to a standstill on Tuesday by municipal waste service members who have been protesting the city’s unilateral employment of uMkhonto WeSizwe Military Veterans in their unit at pay salary grades vastly higher than the rest of the rank and file staff.
Hundreds of city workers, the majority from the Durban Solid Waste unit, gathered outside city hall to protest, while dump trucks either blocked the N3 heading into Durban or dumped waste in key intersections in the CBD. Rubber bullets and stun grenades have been fired at striking workers.
At the same time, councillors were gathering at city hall for a full council sitting.
Democratic Alliance eThekwini Metro leader Nicole Graham said it was “completely ridiculous that this has been allowed to escalate this far and that these illegal appointments haven’t been overturned”.
“The City Mayor Zandile Gumede is directly responsible for hiring these MK vets and for having them elevated from grade four to grade ten. She did it because she owes them politically, and all other employees are rightfully aggrieved. She’s completely incapable of doing her job and is running her city into the ground with her reckless behaviour,” said Graham.
She said the DA was exploring “options” about possibly challenging the MK appointments in court.
Some municipal workers have been on strike since last week, which led to water being cut off in certain areas for days. The city called the move “sabotage”.
Unions told the Sunday Tribune that the appointments of the MK Vets were done without their consultation.
The city workers, while claiming not to be protesting against the appointments of the MK Vets, said they wanted their salaries upgraded from grade four to 10, which the Sunday Tribune is a substantial increase in monetary terms.
City manager Sipho Nzuza told the paper the new recruits were employed and paid based on their expertise and qualifications and that the unions were consulted.
Contacted for comment on Tuesday by African News Agency (ANA), the city said it would issue a statement later in the day.
African News Agency (ANA)