Pretoria - The City of Tshwane has been hit by a number of wildcat strikes in different parts of the metro, including a violent protest instigated by some municipal workers in Centurion on Monday.
Mayor Cilliers Brink yesterday raised concerns about the effects of these strikes, saying they impede the city’s abilities “to respond to power outages”.
He also said there was a likelihood for a disruption of metro bus services as a result of the unprotected strikes.
The strikes were staged ahead of today’s march by South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) affiliates to Tshwane House, where they are expected to air grievances regarding a decision to grant a zero percent increase for the present financial year.
Brink said: “We think these wild-cats strikes in all likelihood are related to the fact that the city has not budgeted salary increases in the present financial year, and because the municipal council resolved that the city should approach the bargaining council to ask for an exemption to these increases.”
He alluded to the fact that the municipality would have liked to pay increases to workers, but affordability was hampered by the present financial situation.
“We will be paying in the region of R600 million more in salaries if we were to grant these increases.”
He said his administration was on a rescue mission to save the city from financial ruin, “so we have the ability over time to execute services and ensure financial sustainability of the city”.
“We implore the employees of the city to wait and follow proper processes when registering grievances, and also that residents understand the bigger context of things going on,” he said.
Regarding today’s march by Samwu members, Brink said: “One of the largest trade unions will be coming to Tshwane to hand over a memorandum of their grievances, and together with the city manager, I welcome the opportunity to receive those grievances and to address workers on the financial situation of the city and of the broader picture we are trying to achieve.”
MMC for Finance in Tshwane, Peter Sutton, warned municipal workers who were taking part in unprotected strike action that the employer would apply a no-work, no-pay principle.
Sutton said: “In May 2023, council approved a budget with a zero percent salary increase for both employees and councillors.
“This decision was not taken lightly as it was based on the current precarious financial position of the city.
“The city will apply for an exemption from the South African Local Government Bargaining Council to not pay any salary increases this financial year, while we work to stabilise the city’s financial health.”
Regional union secretary, Precious Theledi, told the Pretoria News that workers were unable to cope with the high cost of living without salary increases.
She said today’s march was meant to encourage the city to change its mind in terms of applying for another exemption from the salary and wage collective agreement.