STRIKE THREAT AT WATER DEPOT
Six hundred workers at the eThekwini water depot in Springfield have threatened to go on strike - an action which could cripple water distribution in and around Durban - if agency workers are brought in to replace them.
This, according to the workers, would be in breach of an agreement reached between the municipality and their union, the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), last week.
The workers are employed on a contract basis by the eThekwini municipality, some for more than 10 years.
Julius Nkwanyana, Samwu's regional chairperson, said the workers had decided to down tools after arriving at work yesterday morning to find new staff on the site.
"Clearly this was in breach of the agreement we have with the council."
Nkwanyana said after talks with the employer it was resolved that the new workers would be sent away and the "current contract staff" would continue with the day's job.
He said the workers were extremely angry.
"I hope that their patience will not be tested again by management bringing on board new staff."
A contract worker, Sipho Ngcobo, said he had been working for the municipality for more than eight years but had still to receive any benefits.
"I will join the front line of any strike. You can't work for a municipality as big as eThekwini for such a long time and have nothing to show for it.
"We work hard and get nothing in return but there are big bosses who take all the money into their own pockets."
The municipality provides water services to more than three million people
When Sowetan arrived at the water depot yesterday morning, workers were getting ready to begin work again after "a successful meeting" with their employer's representatives.