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big strike looms

By KINGDOM MABUZA | Apr 12, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

MUNICIPAL workers start their indefinite strike today.

MUNICIPAL workers start their indefinite strike today.

The strike, which is over a wage dispute with their employer, the South African Local Government Association (Salga), will disrupt garbage removal, emergency services and general maintenance.

Salga's attempt last week to avert the strike failed when the labour court dismissed an application for an interdict on Friday. About 130000 Samwu members are expected to join the strike.

South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) deputy general secretary Walter Theledi yesterday said their members, including those in essential services, would down tools.

"We have no agreement with Salga and as far as we are concerned all services will be affected until Salga meets our demands," Theledi said.

He said the strike was legal and would be indefinite until Salga met their demands, which include a job evaluation system for local government workers and the re-instatement of workers fired unfairly.

Salga chief executive officer Xolile George said the application was not dismissed but struck off the roll due to lack of urgency.

"Salga will apply for a reinstatement of the application in order to get a determination on the legality of the strike," George said.

"If workers strike on Monday it is at their own risk, Should the court later decide the strike is illegal and unprotected workers could be dismissed in terms of the Labour Relations Act."

He said the national municipal wage bill stood at R41,4billion.

"This massive bill excludes the wage equalisation adjustment, the level of pegging of which is the source of the current dispute."

He said workers' demands for a wage increase would translate into huge rate hikes for communities and businesses. In July last year Samwu and Imatu went on a strike, which severely affected services.

The unions were demanding a 15 percent increase, housing loan assistance and a minimum wage.


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