EMPLOYEES of the Greater Tzaneen municipality yesterday downed tools in protest against the council's decision to implement the no work, no pay principle after a strike.
About 450 members of the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), who allegedly took part in a national strike in July, downed tools.
Union members were angry at management having deducted four days' pay - the duration of the strike.
Management had allegedly decided last week to deduct half of the money from their October salaries and the other half next month.
This did not go down well with employees, who said the municipality had "robbed" them.
Local Samwu secretary Kenny Makhubele said the municipality had taken a unilateral decision without first consulting the affected employees. He said employees thought they were still negotiating.
"But we were later taken aback when management told us that they had resolved to deduct money this month," Makhubele said.
"We have no problem with the deduction. Our problem now is that we have put it to them that they should only deduct the money after February to cushion employees against the Christmas and January financial difficulties.
"But no, management went ahead and took a unilateral decision. That is why we downed tools today to fight for what we believe is a good cause," he said.
Makhubele said the timing of the deduction was wrong because they needed the money to settle accounts, buy Christmas clothes and groceries, pay school fees and buy uniforms for their children.
He said if management failed to listen the workers would continue with the strike until their plight was addressed.
The protesters were later addressed by municipal manager Mabakane Mangena, who said they had consulted and agreed to suspend the deduction and negotiate with the union.
He said they would be informed by the outcome of the negotiations as to when and how the money would be deducted.
Mangena said management believed that workers would return to work today.
Services in the accounts department of the community services and traffic departments were hugely affected by the strike.
James Shikwambane of Tiekieline said he was unable to pay a traffic ticket he got for speeding because officials were on strike.
Gloria Nkuna of Flora Park also could not pay her electricity bill when she got to the counter "because there was strike."