Pretoria - The City of Tshwane has insisted that the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) will be footing the bill for damages the metro has been experiencing.
Municipal workers affiliated to the union have been on strike for a 5.4% pay increase strike for nearly five weeks. This is despite the union denying its involvement in the strike saying its members did not participate in “criminal activities”.
The assertions come after two more waste removal trucks were attacked and torched in the city on Tuesday.
The trucks were set alight while heaps of garbage continued to infest street pavements and disrupt the metro’s catch-up plan.
This brings the total number of trucks set alight to three while two more were damaged at the beginning of the strike about five weeks ago.
Addressing the media in the aftermath of the truck burning Tshwane mayor Cilliers Brink said he had instructed city manager Johann Mettler to tally a bill of the damages to give to Samwu at the end of the strike.
He said whether the union still had control of the strike or not it still had to be held accountable.
“Whether Samwu still has control of the strike or not, they still need to be held accountable. After this strike is over…and it has to be over at some stage… and we stand our ground that it will be over. There is going to be a bill that needs to be paid for the damage suffered by the city and by ratepayers. I’ve asked the city manager to start collecting that bill for a possible civil claim against Samwu,” Brink said.
He said the city had leads about who were behind the torching of the trucks but could not divulge any detailed information on it.
“I cannot disclose all of the information that I currently have because I don’t want to compromise the investigation.
Before briefing the media, Brink released a video saying there had been progress with the city’s plan to catch up with waste removals before the trucks were torched.
“We were making good progress within our waste management catch-up plans but unfortunately in the past 24 hours two removal trucks have been torched.
“It’s clear as daylight that this this part of the criminal strike action designed to bring the city and its communities to its knees,” he said.
He said contractors were withdrawing their services because of these incidents.
Responding to questions from Pretoria News Samwu general secretary Dumisane Magagula said Brink’s assertions were concerning.
“We note with concern, despite the comments by the City. These comments were made while parties were already in the SA Local Government Council hearing the exemption application by the City.
“We will not allow ourselves to be distracted by the City. Our focus is on opposing the exemption application that is currently under way.
“Our members on the ground are failing to catch up with the cost of living as a result of the City denying them their salary and wage increases. Our focus is on ensuring that workers receive their increases, nothing else,” Magagula said.