Ricochet News

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality workers down tools over various grievances

By Afikile Lugunya - Jun 14, 2018
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality workers down tools over various grievances

There was drama outside the Lillian Deidrick’s Building in Govan Mbeki Avenue, Port Elizabeth, where the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality's Human Settlement Department offices are locatedon Thursday as a group of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality workers downed tools in protest.

Speaking to RNEWS, South African Municipal Workers' Union (SAMWU) Regional Secretary, Mqondisi Nodongwe, said that they decided to down tools after not hearing anything back from the Metro, when they tabled a memorandum of demands about two years ago. 

Nodongwe said that it is clear that the Metro is not serious about resolving their grievances.

“One of the key issues is the fact that the employer is suspending employees without following the proper procedures. They just suspend employees and the employment law says that the reasonable time where an employee can be suspended cannot exceed three months,” he described.

He alleged that there are employees, who have been on suspension for over three years, and in the absence of those employees, acting candidates are deployed to occupy their positions.

“Those acting candidates are compensated for performing two functions, their original position and for the acting position," Nodongwe said.

“The employer is also paying the employee who is in suspension."

He said that the workers are also demanding their long-service back-pay, have concerns about subscriptions, Group Life Insurance, the use of legal practitioners, skills and training, overtime, and they also want contract workers to be permanently employed.

One of the protesters, Phumla Citeko, who works in the Metro's Department of Human Settlements and has been working for the municipality for about 22 years now, said that they want the compulsory Group Life Insurance offered by the municipalaity to be ended.

“The Group Life is exploiting us because if one retires, they forfeit all the money you were paying for all these years,” she claimed.

South African Communist Party (SACP) Mbuyiselo Ngwenda District Regional Secretary, Buqaqawuli Mrhwetyana, said that they joined the strike to offer their “full support” to the workers.

Acting African National Congress (ANC) Nelson Mandela Bay Regional Chairman, Phumzile Tshuni, said that before anyone is a worker, they are first a member of the community.

“As a community member of this Municipality, we have houses and this strike will affect us directly.

"But because SAMWU is an affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and COSATU is an alliance partner of the ANC, we therefore support the strike because it is out of order for the municipality to have contractual workers for a long time while the Labour Relations Act is very clear about that," he said.

“The municipality must simply just give the people their money back because this will affect service delivery.” 

SAMWU Regional Chairperson, Nomvula Hadi, encouraged workers everyone to always be on guard.

"We are not afraid of anyone we are here to fight for workers,” she added.

The protesting workers are expected to march to the City Hall on Friday to hand in their memorandum of demands.

news 20400 25760 dsc 1229 JPGnews 20400 25761 img 20180614 114612 jpgnews 20400 25762 img 20180614 114620 jpg