More than 600 workers set to act over threats to jobs

Michael Sakuneka

Michael Sakuneka

A strike is looming in the Greater Tzaneen Municipality in Limpopo as more than 600 members of the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) and Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) threaten to go on strike.

They plan to protest against what they call possible retrenchment.

This after the municipality started the restructuring of staff components in various departments without consulting the workers.

Samwu secretary in the municipality Andries Sebela said workers were disturbed by management's tendency of taking unilateral decisions.

He said they feared that some of the positions would be declared redundant and some workers would be retrenched.

The unions are at the moment bracing themselves for a standoff with the employers.

"We are disturbed because the process affects most of our members, as some of them may even lose their jobs," said Sebela.

He said the union declared a dispute in the South African Local Government Bargaining Council, where a hearing is expected to take place on November 16.

If the parties failed to resolve the matter, Samwu would be issued with a certificate making their protest march official "and thereafter a date for the strike will be announced".

Sebela also said they were still waiting for a reply to a memorandum submitted on July 16, in which they demanded, among other things, an end to ethnic racism, nepotism and privatisation of certain municipal services.

The secretary of Imatu in the Tzaneen Municipality, Bertha Soundy, said the union supported the strike, but believed in negotiations before the strike itself.

She said the union would also attend the bargaining council in a bid to help come up with an amicable solution to the dispute.

Efforts to get a comment from municipal manager Mabakane Mangena and the municipality's head of communications failed because they were not available.