Pretoria - Defiant Tshwane municipal workers affiliated to the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) took to the streets again yesterday, despite an interim court order barring them from striking unlawfully.
On Friday, the City of Tshwane approached the Labour Court to obtain a court order against the illegal strikers.
Fewer strikers braved the rainy weather this time, however.
Motorists in Lillian Ngoyi and Madiba streets were delayed as traffic was disrupted by the demonstrators chanting Struggle songs. Others discarded piles of rubbish in the road.
Police were on standby to ensure the situation did not get out of control.
The protest continued despite an assurance in the morning by Samwu deputy secretary Dumisani Magagula that workers were not on strike.
In a TV interview, Magagula said: “There is no strike in Tshwane and we do not accept the fact that it is Samwu members that are intimidating anyone from going to work or anyone from delivering services.”
He said “failure by the municipality to implement the salary increment” stirred unhappiness among the workers.
The increment was part of the agreement signed last month between the parties at the bargaining council.
“Unfortunately, workers did go to try to get the municipality to address them on its failure and how the municipality is going to address them even before we go for legal action against the municipality,” Magagula said.
He added that the municipality did not apply for an exemption or give reasons as to why it would not honour the agreement in line with the law.
The Pretoria News learnt that while some workers participated in the demonstration, others did not report for duty.
Magagula said the union was aware that the municipality was intending not to give salary increases in the next three years, saying that the move had brought uncertainty to workers.
In a media statement, the City said it would “take a hard-line stance” against anyone found violating the court order.
“The City is pinning its hopes on law enforcement to maintain law and order and to enforce compliance with the interim court order,” it said.
Residents were warned that the strike could disrupt services such as bus operations, licensing and waste collection, especially around the CBD.
Samwu regional secretary Mpho Tladinyane said workers wanted the City to meet their demands before the local government elections.
He denied that Samwu was fighting the political battles of the ANC as claimed by mayor and DA mayoral candidate Randall Williams.
ANC spokesperson in Tshwane, Bafuze Yabo, yesterday said: “Samwu does not fight ANC battles.
“It fights on behalf of the workers. Samwu used to undertake strikes against the ANC government up to the moment the DA took over.” He said Williams’ utterances were illogical because the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) had also fought for workers.
“If we are to apply Randall’s logic, would we be correct to say Imatu does the bidding of the DA? Randall is deliberately sidestepping his responsibility as the executive mayor of the City and instead chooses to go on a witch-hunt against the ANC.”