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Striking Municipal Employees Instructed to Urgently Return to Work
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Date: 2024-03-06 10:28:50

Striking Municipal Employees Instructed to Urgently Return to Work

ETHEKWINI NEWSFLASH
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
5 MARCH 2024


EThekwini Mayor Councillor Mxolisi Kaunda has called on the City administration to take all the necessary steps within the confines of the law to ensure that employees engaged in an illegal strike action return to work or face dismissal.

This call was made by Mayor Kaunda during a Special Executive Committee (EXCO) meeting convened to take stock of the situation and assess the City's interventions since the illegal strike began on 27 February 2024.

Mayor Kaunda expressed appreciation to eThekwini City Manager Musa Mbhele for overseeing clean-up initiatives in Durban’s central business district and providing support to various units.

The City remains committed to urgently reinstating services such as the provision of water and electricity, while addressing security threats posed by infrastructure sabotage. Communities who have been without water and electricity for several days are bearing the brunt of this unlawful strike action. Patients have also sadly been unable to access healthcare.

Refuse collection has also been affected with residents and business forced to contain refuse inside their properties until further notice.

It was highlighted during the EXCO meeting that Municipality has not received a memorandum of grievances or petition from the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) apart for a one-page paper with Ekurhuleni Municipality pay scales which was submitted to the Office of the City Manager on 27 February 2024.

Based on the information submitted, it would seem that SAMWU is demanding pay parity to that of Ekurhuleni Municipality and/or implementation of Category 10 pay scales.

However, the matter regarding the implementation of the Wage Curve is still under negotiation at national level as it is a national competence.

It was also reported during EXCO that the Municipality obtained an urgent interdict in the Labour Court on 28 February 2024.

The interdict against striking employees as well as those that are members of SAMWU, prohibits any unlawful conduct, acts of violence and interference with the City's activities, services, and operations.

It further restrains the striking employees from intimidating, harassing, assaulting, threatening or perpetuating acts of violence against employees, service providers or those accessing offices or workstations.

The order also mandates employees to comply with their contracts of employment and comply with the Act, as committing unlawful conduct constitutes misconduct, and this could result in disciplinary action.
Employees are also interdicted from taking part in or instigating and unlawful, disruptive, or riotous behaviour that may result in damage to Municipal property, the infringement of rights of others, damage to any service delivery vehicles or hindering, obstructing, or blocking Municipal vehicles.
 
The City has suspended 20 employees in connection to the strike.

EXCO members were also apprised about the resolutions taken by a special meeting of the Ministers from the Justice Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster on Sunday, 3 March 2024.

A detailed progress report on interventions was also presented which included that:

• Metro Police and other law enforcement agencies have been sourced to escort staff to service delivery points including clearing of roads, electricity faults, water leaks, burst pipes and refuse removal. This is aimed at addressing the challenge of intimidation and attacks on non-striking workers.
• Both Metro Police and the South African Police Service are on high alert and will take the necessary action.
• Contractors have also been engaged to attend to water and electricity faults.
• A team has been set up to analyse all video footage of the destruction of property, including abuse of state vehicles that were in the hands of Municipal employees who participated in the illegal strike. This process is underway, and culprits are being identified.

Mayor Kaunda reiterated that the Municipality cannot allow anarchy and lawlessness to prevail.

“As the leadership of the City we will not tolerate anarchy. We are not running a Banana Republic, nor will we be held to ransom. We are now focusing our attention on restoring basic services such as water and electricity in all areas affected by the illegal strike,” concluded Mayor Kaunda.

ENDS

Issued by the eThekwini Municipality’s Communication Unit.