Striking municipal workers protest outside Tshwane House for the second day running. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)
Striking municipal workers protest outside Tshwane House for the second day running. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Tshwane Samwu pay dispute enters second day

By Rapula Moatshe Time of article published Jul 23, 2020

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Pretoria - The stand-off between workers affiliated to the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) and the City of Tshwane over a pay dispute entered its second day yesterday, with another protest outside Tshwane House.

Traffic was disrupted in the CBD as the disgruntled workers took to the street, demanding to see proof of “benchmarking payments”, backdated from July 2017 when Tshwane was upgraded from level 9 to 10.

At the time, workers’ salary scales were not adjusted in line with its new status.

Workers convened outside Tshwane House, where they chanted songs and demonstrated in the streets, calling for head administrator Mpho Nawa to vacate office.

The protest was held despite a pronouncement by Nawa on Tuesday that the City could not afford payouts due to its declining revenue, compounded by the negative effects of Covid-19.

The City, Nawa said, lost three months of income - more than R2.8billion - owing to shortfalls in revenue.

Some streets were blocked off with municipal refuse trucks, rocks and burning wheelie bins.

Motorists were forced to make U-turns to avoid the protesters, who blocked traffic.

SAPS officers and metro police kept an eye on the situation for the better part of the day.

The protesters vowed to demonstrate in the inner city until they had been shown proof that the City would pay their “benchmarking payments” tomorrow.

Samwu national general-secretary Koena Ramotlou said workers were not on strike, but had come to Tshwane House to check if the benchmarking money and the 6.25% salary increment were included on their salary advice.

“We can’t be blackmailed by administrators that they can’t pay out monies which are signed and sealed and think that we are the weakest persons in the payment plan they have in the municipality,” he said.

Ramotlou warned other municipalities in the country against not paying workers the 6.25% increment, threatening that all hell would break loose if they withdrew from the standing salary increase agreement.

“Tshwane must issue letters today that the benchmarking monies will be paid on a pay day,” he said.

The ANC in Pretoria expressed concern over the impasse between the workers and the City’s administrators.

The party said: “There is a 2019 agreement that was inherited by the administrators to which labour agreed to a nine-month waiting period before it could be implemented. We would like to implore the administrators and workers’ representatives to resolve the impasse.”

Meanwhile, the City yesterday suspended the operation of Tshwane Bus Services and A Re Yeng bus commuters because of the protest action.

City spokesperson Selby Bokaba said the decision was taken for the safety of the drivers and commuters, as well as to protect municipal assets.

“We will assess the situation during the course of the day (yesterday) and make a determination about when operations will resume. Commuters are advised to make alternative travel arrangements. The City would like to offer an apology to its bus commuters for the inconvenience,” he said.

Samwu was last night scheduled to have a meeting with the employer, and at the time of publication, its outcome was unknown.

*For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit IOL's #Coronavirus trend page.

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za

Pretoria News

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