As many as 200 workers in the George municipality downed tools on Wednesday demanding that they be paid a Covid-19 danger pay as well as the improvement of working conditions. Picture: File
As many as 200 workers in the George municipality downed tools on Wednesday demanding that they be paid a Covid-19 danger pay as well as the improvement of working conditions. Picture: File

George municipal workers strike for a second time in two weeks over Covid-19 danger pay

By Tshego Lepule Time of article published Jun 23, 2021

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As many as 200 South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) workers in George have downed tools over ongoing disputes regarding the payment of Covid-19 danger pay.

On Wednesday workers in the George Municipality embarked marched to the municipal offices demanding that they be paid Covid-19 danger pay by June 30 for working during the hard lockdown last year.

The Sowetan reported that the national union on Wednesday formally rejected a proposed wage deal that was put together to end a deadlock between SAMWU and members of the Allied Trade Union (Imatu) who could not reach an agreement with the South African Local Government Association which represents the country’s 257 municipalities. This proposal was centred around a salary increase of between 3.5% and 4% over a three-year period. Failure to reach an agreement would see workers going on strike.

And in the Western Cape both unions are striking over demands for better working conditions and a danger pay.

“SAMWU believes that the management have negotiated in bad faith after several attempts by the union to find amicable solutions through the Local Labour Forum (LLF) engagements between organised labour,” said the union’s provincial secretary, John Mcanjana.

“We were hoping that the payment Covid-19 compensation would have been finalised by the end of May 2021 since these negotiations have been ongoing since last April as per the LLF TASK Team undertaking from March 2021.

“All Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers that are occupying vacant positions are not considered for permanency and are exploited to perform functions of a permanent employee whilst given slavery wages. At times, the councillors are politicising the appointment of EPWP workers without following a fair process to afford unemployed community workers a fair opportunity and exploiting the situation as a political football.”

The municipality had previously stated they could not afford to meet the unions’ demand on Covid-19 danger pay would cost the municipality R64million.

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