New wage bill dilemma for Tshwane

TAKING A BREAK: Members of the South African Municipal Workers Union and Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union take a break from
toyi-toying in Johannesburg yesterday. The workers are demanding a 15 percent wage increase. PHOTO: VATHISWA RUSELO. 29/07/2009. © Sowetan
TAKING A BREAK: Members of the South African Municipal Workers Union and Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union take a break from toyi-toying in Johannesburg yesterday. The workers are demanding a 15 percent wage increase. PHOTO: VATHISWA RUSELO. 29/07/2009. © Sowetan

WHILE the municipal strike enters its fourth day today, the city of Tshwane's special mayoral committee yesterday discussed how to absorb the new wage bill.

According to Gabriel Thwala, the councillor responsible for corporate and shared services, the committee debated how the new salary adjustments would be included in the municipality's 2009-10 budget without affecting ratepayers.

By late yesterday the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) looked set to accept the latest offer - 11,5percent from July and a further 1,5percent next January - which Salga has put on the table.

But the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) has stuck to its demand for 15percent. Both unions were yesterday consulting members.

Meanwhile, Thwala said services in the city were under a lot of strain since municipal offices in Centurion and Akasia had to be closed down yesterday because of severe intimidation and threats to employees who arrived for work.

"The city has been running its services on contingency plans since Monday," he said. "Waste removal is operational because it falls within the parameters of essential services."

Samwu general secretary Mthandeki Nhlapo said Salga wanted to undermine legitimate wage demands by saying that the cost of the workers' demands would be passed on to the ratepayers.

"This outrageous claim is clearly aimed at driving a wedge between the communities and workers," he said.

In Tongaat, north of Durban, six striking municipal workers were injured and others arrested when they clashed with police yesterday afternoon.

Samwu members were marching to a community hall for a meeting when the police tried to force them off the street "because they had no permission to march".

A scuffle broke out between the police and protesters.

Police spokesperson Director Phindile Hadebe confirmed the incident.

She said the police had to act because "illegal" protesters were causing problems in the street.

"The police had to fire rubber bullets to disperse the illegal protesters," Hadebe said. "It was during this skirmish that three people were injured and six arrested."

Among those arrested were Samwu shop stewards Linda Zungu and Jay Mazibuko.

X