Strike looms in Mutale

DENIES CLAIMS: Godfrey Netshanzhe.  Cicra 2008. Pic. Unknown.
DENIES CLAIMS: Godfrey Netshanzhe. Cicra 2008. Pic. Unknown.

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

A strike is looming at the Mutale municipality in Limpopo among workers who want to protest against the planned 11 percent increase in councillors' salaries .

The proposed increase, which will be backdated to July last year, will exclude junior officials.

The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) resolved on Monday to embark on mass action if the council decision were carried out.

Samwu is against the proposed increases, claiming that the municipality is in dire financial situation.

According to government policy, municipalities can only adjust councillors' salaries on the basis of money being available.

This must also be done in consultation with the MEC for local government and housing in the various provinces.

But sources in Mutale claimed yesterday that the municipality was not in a position to do the determination of the higher levels, which also means they cannot approach the MEC to recommend the adjustments of councillors' salaries while the municipality was heavily indebted.

They claimed the municipality was had cash flow problems.

The municipality is allegedly unable to afford the medical aid schemes of some of its employees, resulting in cancellations of those schemes because of non-payment.

There are also claims of employees sometimes being paid their salaries later than the normal pay days.

Lawrence Sumbana, the Samwu secretary at the municipality, said workers felt they had exhausted all avenues after several efforts to engage the municipality about their problems yielded no results.

"For instance, the workers have not received any single percentage wage increase since 2000, except the one adjustment that is done every financial year," said Sumbana.

He said the union was meeting its members late yesterday to agree on a date to go on a "full blown" strike.

"We are embarking on strike action to send a message to management that we are tired of their tactics. We want them to own up," he said.

He said the municipality also did not want to advertise posts internally so that union members could apply.

Municipal manager Godfrey Netshanzhe said yesterday the increase of the councillors' salaries was based on a gazette circulated to all municipalities in December.

He said the banks were to blame for the late payments of employees' salaries.

"The municipality's financial status is okay as we've been able to meet all our financial obligations," he said.