Limpopo municipality and workers at loggerheads over pay increase demand

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

A deadlock over a salary dispute between management and workers has brought the Blouberg municipality in Limpopo to a complete standstill.

Disenchanted workers at the municipality near Polokwane embarked on a strike a fortnight ago to force management to listen to their demand.

The workers are demanding a five-percent salary increment but management has rejected it as being "too much".

The management claimed the municipality was bankrupt and had no budget to meet the salary demand. It had instead offered a one-percent increase, an offer the workers described as "an insult".

This deadlock has led to a week-long protest at the offices of the municipal manager and mayor.

The workers have decided not to render municipal services until their demands are met.

Yesterday communities in the area gathered at the municipality gates and threatened to confront the workers about lack of service delivery.

The residents complained that they were unable to buy electricity and water from the municipality because of the ongoing strike.

They said they were compelled to use the nearby bushes to respond to the call of nature because they could not buy water.

They said they were forced to use river water to do their household chores, which is also used by wild animals.

"This is not good for us and our children's health. We can get sick from this water because it is not purified," said affected resident, Joyce Mokoka of Indermark.

Municipal manager Ike Makhura said the workers' strike was illegal.

Makhura said the management intended informing striking workers not to report for duty until their grievances had been addressed.

Makhura said the management could also be forced to involve the police to disperse those gathering illegally at their offices.

Spokesman for the workers, Dan Mosena, said their plight had been taken to the bargaining council which had allegedly ruled in their favour.

Mosena said the workers wanted their salaries adjusted to match their experience. He said the workers were determined to continue with their strike until the municipality acceded to their "reasonable demand".