Durban – Municipal workers in several key functions have shut down parts of the Durban city centre on Thursday as their anger over salary hikes given to MK Vets show no signs of abating.
The veterans, who were hired as general assistants in the water department last year, started earning R9 000 month, but were due to be bumped up to R20 000 from this month.
This angered other workers in the department who were not given the same increases.
“In view of the current situation, the city has decided to halt the process of engaging 55 employees pertaining to task grade 10.
“This is to allow a thorough review of this process and to conduct an analysis of the impact of this decision to be concluded within 30 days,” said city manager Sipho Nzuza.
He said all affected employees would be consulted, but warned that the city would invoke the principle of “no work, no pay” to all employees on the illegal strike.
Nzuza is to address employees at the city hall today and make the announcement about the salary grade review.
SA Municipal Workers’ Union provincial secretary Jaycee Ncanana said their meeting with the city on Tuesday was fruitless, but they hoped the city would come with a better offer today.
“In that meeting they said they would not accede to our demands. Based on that, we are at a standstill. We are waiting to hear from the employer,” Ncanana said.
The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry said negotiation was vital to reduce the damage and “potential ripple effects” the protest action could have on the economy.
Chief executive Palesa Phili said the CBD was a critical business and commercial area for the city and could not be subjected to disruptive action or fall into disarray.
“Given its proximity to the city’s harbour, the CBD is still a vital part of the city’s economy and needs to continue to create added value. We encourage businesses and its members operating in the area to exercise caution and to implement their risk management strategies to minimise the risk to their operations and productivity,” Phili said.
DA councillor Heinz de Boer said the city should have been better prepared to deal with the strike as there were rumours of mutiny among city workers over the MK veterans’ salary increases.
“We need to have a separation of powers within government. A politician should not be instructing municipal officials. We can’t have a mayor or any other ANC politician ordering the city manager to give these people increases because this is what happens.”
De Boer called on residents to band together and try to clear the refuse on the road for health reasons.
Additional reporting by Thabiso Goba