WATCH: Samwu workers storm Tshwane House demand outstanding payments
Pretoria - Chaos broke out at Tshwane House on Tuesday as angry workers affiliated to the South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) stormed the municipal headquarters after they deadlocked with the employer over their outstanding "benchmarking" payments.
Police fired rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators, who had destroyed the main gate to forcefully gain entry to the building.
Some striking workers ran helter-skelter as they tried to dodge rubber bullets shot at them.
They eventually regrouped and chanted Struggle songs in front of the municipal building.
Earlier on, some workers parked municipal vehicles and waste removal trucks on the corner Madiba and Lillian Ngoyi streets to block traffic.
Angry workers affiliated to Samwu stormed Tshwane House after they deadlocked with the employer over their outstanding "benchmarking" payments. Video: Rapula Moatshe
Others burnt municipal wheelie bins and emptied rubbish in the middle of the road.
They had congregated at Tshwane House after their union leaders called them to come and "check whether their increase and benchmarking monies have been paid".
The benchmarking payouts were expected to be in line with a collective agreement reached by the parties last year.
The agreement was reached by a benchmarking team, which investigated the workers’ salary scales in Tshwane with those of counterpart metros.
The investigation was made in order to put employees on par with how workers in category 10 municipalities were paid after Tshwane was moved from category 9 status by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs in 2017.
While the metro's grading was moved from level 9 to 10, the employees’ salary scales were never adjusted accordingly.
Regional Samwu chairperson Nkhetheni Muthavhi said the workers won't back down on their demand, saying it was better for them to die of coronavirus instead of poverty.
Muthavhi said workers took to the street after a team of administrators led by Mpho Nawa claimed they could not afford the payouts.
"The only money that we need is R756 million to cover our payments. Two weeks back they said they have R300 million to pay for benchmarking.
On Monday, they don't have millions; they don't have anything. One wonders whether they want to steal from the poor workers.
"They seem to have an over-excessive appetite for stealing," he said.
He said the employer had, however, agreed to implement the wage increase of 6.25%.
Early this year workers were paid part of the benchmarking payments and the rest was scheduled to be settled on July 26.
"What we are fighting for is that they must implement phase two of benchmarking. That is where we are.
"They seem to be claiming that they don't have money.
"These people are getting R90 000 each on top of their salaries from where they come.
"They will die of over-eating when workers are dying of hunger," Muthavhi said.
Nawa recently told the Pretoria News that he was in "negotiations" with the unions over benchmarking payouts.
"We are saying to the unions that Covid-19 has had an effect on the City’s finances and the City never anticipated this situation,” he said.
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