Court puts brakes on City of Tshwane wildcat strike

The City of Tshwane, led by mayor Stevens Mokgalapa, in this file picture, has applied for a successful court interdict against workers on an illigal strike.
The City of Tshwane, led by mayor Stevens Mokgalapa, in this file picture, has applied for a successful court interdict against workers on an illigal strike.
Image: Gallo Images / Phill Magakoe

The City of Tshwane obtained an interdict against a wildcat municipal worker’s strike that brought the Pretoria CBD to a standstill on Monday.

The city sought an urgent interdict on Monday after thousands of the city’s workers shut down Pretoria on Monday demanding a salary increase of 18%.

The Labour Court in Johannesburg  has effectively put brakes on the strike after it gave an urgent order against  members of the SA municipal workers’ union [Samwu] who blockaded roads with municipal vehicles.

The court  ordered  workers to return to their posts with immediate effect. The order was granted as workers' reperesentatives and the city were locked in negotiations over their demands.

The court order states that the protest action – which was expected to continue until tomorrow - constitutes an unprotected strike.

“… that the members of the first respondents [Samwu] be interdicted and restrained from blocking or interfering with the traffic flow in the Pretoria CBD without proper authority being obtained for a march.

“… that the members of the first respondent be interdicted and restrained from assaulting, intimidating, harassing or otherwise threatening the application’s [City of Tshwane] employees,” the order read.

Buses and other municipal vehicles blockaded roads leading into the city, affecting business. Most of the shops were forced to close.

The R7.5m paid out to Tshwane City manager Moeketsi Mosola is also at the centre of the municipal worker’s strike.

Moarabi Kotsokwane, who works in the city’s roads and stormwater department, said it was unfair that Mosola received such a hefty payout.

“Recently on the news, the municipal manager who just left us, now apparently got a handshake of about R7.5m. That money can benefit almost 50% of the people who are here,” Kotsokwane said.

Mosola and the city’s council agreed to part ways “amicably” this week in a move that will see the embattled city manager pocket about R 7.5m. Sowetan has seen a separation agreement between the city and Mosola which states that the former manager – whose five-year contract ends in 2022 – will be paid in full the remaining remuneration. Mosola was getting paid almost R2.5m a year.

“It’s quite a lot of money for one person when we are actually the people who do the work and we’re not getting anything. So it’s quite unfair,” said Kotsokwane.

He said that the protest action would continue until the city agreed to their demands. The SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) was locked in a meeting with the city by 1pm on Monday, with the expectation being that they will come out with an agreement.

“[We will go back] only if they can be able to pay us that money. I don’t know if it will be paid with EFT or... I mean that’s all we want," said Kotsokwane. “You know right now, we’re supposed to be at work anyway but they are telling us they cannot pay us if we’re not at work. It’s not that we want to be here, we want to be working,” he said.

Kotsokwane was joined by thousands of municipal workers who had gathered outside Tshwane House to deliver a memorandum of demands. The usually traffic-heavy routes in the city centre were occupied by scores of strikers who were dancing and singing Struggle songs.

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