City of Tshwane gets interdict to halt 'wanton destruction' during strike

The City of Tshwane has obtained an interdict against striking members of Samwu. File photo.
The City of Tshwane has obtained an interdict against striking members of Samwu. File photo.

The City of Tshwane has obtained an interdict from the labour court in a bid to stop the disruption of services by striking members of the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu).

The ongoing labour dispute is having a “devastating” impact on the provision of service delivery across all seven regions in the municipality, according to the city.

Angry workers damaged the Tshwane municipality head office during protest action last week.

They also emptied bins and strew litter across the CBD, according to the municipality.

“Provision of services in various regions in respect of water and sanitation, energy and electricity, re-gravelling of the roads have been severely affected. Other services that have been severely affected by the strike include the suspension of the bus services, closure of some of the customer care walk-in centres and a clinic,” said the city.

Workers who reported for duty in certain regions were allegedly physically threatened and their offices forcefully closed by striking workers.

“Management has conceded to one of the workers’ demands of the payment of the annual wage increment, which would be paid on Wednesday, 29 July 2020. The leadership of the municipality has made it abundantly clear to the labour union representatives that the city’s finances were in dire straits and thus cannot afford to pay the workers their outstanding benchmarking monies at this juncture,” the city said.

The interdict the city obtained against striking members of Samwu prevents them from:

  •  Blocking or interfering with the traffic flow in the Pretoria CBD, without proper authority being obtained for a protest march;
  •  Damaging city property, that of residents, or business owners; and
  •  Threatening, manhandling or assaulting any city employee or contractor.

Tshwane head administrator Mpho Nawa urged striking workers to comply with the order and pleaded with the parties to return to the negotiation table.

“We have witnessed wanton destruction of property since last week in the CBD and this has now escalated to threats and intimidation of non-striking workers in various regions. Some of the striking workers have gone to the extent of switching off the lights at one of the city’s clinics which is providing a critical service during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Nawa said.

“This is totally unacceptable. Workers have an inalienable right to protest peacefully and not to threaten, intimidate or destroy property.

 “We hope that the court order will be complied with and workers would return to work and provide the much-needed services to our communities. The city’s finances are in a precarious state currently and if we attempt to pay the benchmarking monies we would be crippling the municipality and be forced to retrench the workers. We have bent over backwards to pay workers the annual wage increment amid very tight budgetary constraints,” he said.

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