MUNICIPAL workers will embark on strike action on Thursday over the City's decision to apply for an exemption from implementing a salary increase this financial year.
Members of the South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) said the decision was also to highlight their “economic plight”.
Samwu metro regional secretary Mikel Kumalo said the City's decision would have a devastating impact on members who were already shouldering the burden of Covid-19.
“This is an attack not only on us but on our families too, some of whom are unemployed and depend on us financially. We will not rest until the City complies with the collective agreement,” said Kumalo.
He said a legal process to oppose the City's decision was also being considered.
The Independent Municipal & Allied Trade Union (Imatu) said it would “vehemently” oppose the City's decision and accused it of making its employees a sacrificial lamb for political gain in the upcoming elections.
After five months of protracted negotiations, the South African Local Government Association (Salga) announced an agreement of a 3.5% salary increase with effect from July 1, 2021.
Different categories of employees would also receive an additional once-off non-pensionable cash allowance as part of the agreement.
Gathered outside the Civic Centre yesterday, Samwu lambasted the City for expecting the workers to “forgo” the salary increase while it “continued to make huge savings and revenue”.
“The City will be spending millions of rand on the Green Point stadium in preparation for E-Formula championships but when it comes to salaries of the workers, it pleads poverty. It has shown us that we are not its priority,” said Kumalo.
Imatu accused the City of “sacrificing employees for political gain” in the upcoming elections .
Regional secretary Etienne Bruwer said: “We are disappointed by the City's decision during these difficult economic times for our members who are also ratepayers in the city.”
Samwu also called on the government to implement a Basic Income Grant for the unemployed of “not less than R1 500”.
On October 22 the union would also hold a march on Parliament to register its opposition to budget cuts that affected the “poor”.
Addressing a council meeting earlier this week, outgoing mayor Dan Plato said the workers were “free to take to the street”.
He said the City's salaries matched those offered by the private sector.
Mayco member for Finance Ian Neilson also said councillors had not received increases for either the 2020/21 or 2021/22 financial years.
“When drawing up the budget, the needs and interests of the City’s residents were our primary concern, as evidenced by the zero percent employee cost increase,” Neilson said.
He said a reallocation of funds for additional salaries would impact on service delivery.
Kumalo rejected this and accused the City of implementing salary increases for councillors last year during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said even if the City was implementing a blanket zero increase, ordinary workers would feel the pinch most as they earned “low salaries”.
“Our members are adding value to the running of the City. That value must be recognised not only in words but also in action,” said Kumalo.
He said while the City boasted of being the best run in the country, service delivery in the townships and informal settlements had “collapsed”.
“A majority of our members live in those communities. While they are expected to render a service for the rich, they go back to communities who look like dump sites. We have not chosen to be poor,” he said.