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Workers threaten protracted strike as overtime dispute heats up

By Afikile Lugunya - Nov 9, 2017
Workers threaten protracted strike as overtime dispute heats up

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality on Wednesday said that it will respond to a list of demands handed over by its workers, who downed tools and marched from Sydenham to the City Hall, in the Port Elizabeth CBD, in an ongoing dispute over overtime between the workers and the Metro.

During their strike action, the workers "decorated" the city with rubbish, emptying rubbish beans and spreading the rubbish everywhere to show that the City is nothing without them "so they must not be exploited".

Several individuals addressed the protestors, saying that they are tired of the policies on Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, and called for his resignation.

Many of the posters read; “Down with Trollip”, "Trollip only serves white minority", "Stop purging black office".

The workers said that the strike is just the beginning because the municipality has declared war on the workers.

South African Municipal Workers' Union (SAMWU) Regional Chairperson Nomvula Hadi, said that the Executive Mayor must not forget that he is the Mayor because he was voted for by people.

“Trollip is in the municipal chair by votes and in five years, he will be gone. We are employed and can stay employed for 60 years. He must not think that he is more superior than us because he is not, instead he must be grateful to those that put him in and stop exploiting municipal workers,” she described.

“How dare you Trollip come from your farm and think that because you can speak isiXhosa you can change our municipal ways."

The marchers promised something worse if the municipality does not respond to their demands.

To the SAMWU members, Hadi said; “Be tough SAMWU; don’t let a privileged man, who grew up in a farm bully you in your own municipality.”

The African National Congress (ANC) in the Bay also pledged its support to the workers strike with acting Nelson Mandela Bay Regional Chairman, Phumzile Tshuni, addressing protestors at City Hall on Wednesday.

“We want the overtime policy back the way we used to have it when the ANC government was in charge. These workers must get their long service income,” he said.

"Yes, we are workers, but we are also community members, so when water runs out during the weekend and electricity gets shut we also feel the pain so the ANC is supporting you full time.

"We will also organise other people in the metro to help you carry on with whatever you are planning to do.”

A memorandum of demands was handed over and accepted by Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality MMC for Human Settlements, Cllr Nqaba Bhanga, who promised that stakeholders involved will respond to the Municipal workers demands in seven days.

“The government led by the Democratic Alliance (DA) respects the rights of workers that is why we came to accept the memorandum, however as the municipality we did everything legally right because workers were abusing over time.”

“It is very clear that there are people, who are stealing and abusing overtime allowance and now we are controlling and managing it, so far it has been going very well,” he said.

In a statement, the Metro said that it was prepared to pay overtime at normal rates and blamed the striking workers for sabotaging service delivery in the Bay.