Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality strikers return to work

JULY 31, 2015

The week-long illegal strike by the Nelson Mandela Bay's Energy and Electricity Directorate staff is reportedly over and they returned to their posts on Friday morning. 

A deal was struck between the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and unions on Wednesday - but they did not show up at work on Thursday as they waited for payments to reflect in their accounts.

The workers downed tools over scarce skills allowances, which were cancelled by Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Danny Jordaan, as a cost-cutting measure in his maiden budget.

While the illegal strike reportedly spared most residents in the Metro from two days of Stage 2 load shedding last weekend, the impasse has meant that some residents in several suburbs have been without power since last Saturday as nobody is available to attend to electricity emergencies.

According to The Herald, unions met with Mayor Jordaan; his deputy, Bicks Ndoni, and chief whip, Litho Suka, on Wednesday evening, where it was agreed that the scarce skills allowance would be reinstated for the next three months as discussions continue.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has not divuldged further details about the agreement.

Strike condemned 

On Wednesday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) Nelson Mandela Bay Caucus, while calling on Mayor  Jordaan, to speedily address striking staff, condemned the illegal strike.

“The DA warned of the consequences of this ill-advised course of action and our predictions have now come to pass leaving the residents to suffer massive inconvenience as a result,” said DA PR Councillor, Jonathan Lawack, in a statement.

“The matter has now escalated to the level where the municipality is essentially being held to ransom by those employees. Complaints by desperate residents who have gone without electricity for days on end, fall on deaf ears.”

He said residents were suffering owing to these power shortages in a harsh winter.

“Our residents should not be made to bear the brunt of internal wrangling and labour disputes.”

Nelson Mandela Ratepayers Association (NMBRA) Chairperson, Kobus Gerber, was of the same feeling when he told Algoa FM; "The ratepayers are paying 'ransom money' to illegal strikers and irregular payments are going to be made for these strikers. Just due to the fact that the executive director of corporate services has not done his work properly, with the scarce skills matter. That is totally unacceptable."

The CEO of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, Kevin Hustler, also told the station that the strike was also affecting business specifically low voltage consumers in the commercial and retail sector. 

Municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki told AlgoaFM News that areas without power would receive priority, now that the striking workers are back.