Tshwane municipal workers are possibly facing a prospect of “no work, no pay” as Gauteng cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Lebogang Maile condemned the disruptive protests.
The workers, who are members of South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), and the Tshwane metro have been involved in long wage talks that recently collapsed.
On Tuesday, negotiations between Samwu, the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) and a team of administrators could not agree on envisaged wage increases as metro faced a loss in revenue since lockdown.
This led to an unprotected industrial action, accompanied by destruction of municipal property by the workers, culminating in services, including the Tshwane bus service, coming to a halt on Wednesday.
Protesting workers also trashed Tshwane House municipal headquarters on Tuesday, destroying property and emptying bins throughout the CBD streets.
Maile condemned the “criminal-inclined tactic” used by the municipal workers to “force” the metro to concede to their demands.
“Organised labour has resorted to industrial action without following due processes of declaring a dispute and submitting a 48-hour strike notice, as per the labour relations act.
“We call on organised labour, irrespective of their union logos or T-shirt colours to disengage from industrial action. The doors for engagement are open in order to find an amicable solution,” said Maile.
He called on the workers to suspend their industrial action and return to the bargaining table and allow negotiations to continue.
“We also urge both parties to negotiate in good faith,” Maile said.
He said by law, the Tshwane metro could seek a court interdict or alternatively enforce the principle of “no work, no pay” against all employees who have embarked on an unprotected industrial action.
“The right to strike should not be abused or used to undermine collective bargaining processes. We appeal to organised labour to go back to the bargaining table,” said Maile.
He added that his department was prepared to meet with labour to solicit a deeper understanding of their collective bargaining demands and resolve the stand-off.
According to Tshwane head administrator Mpho Nawa, the purpose of the meeting between the unions and the metro was to conclude the two agenda items of which one was the implementation of the 6.25% annual wage increase and implementation of the bench-marking collective agreement.
Nawa said the talks were not concluded due to the fact that Samwu leadership walked out of the meeting, leading to its collapse as there was no quorum.
“The main issue that was disputed by leaders of both unions was around the metro’s request to make a proposal on how the 6.25% pay rise could be structured.”
Nawa said the administrators had also made a compelling case regarding the state of the metro’s finances.
He said national treasury had also raised this concern of finances with the Tshwane metro.
“It is public knowledge that over the passage of time, the city’s revenue has been declining and this problem was compounded by under-collection due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“These challenges were not only pervasive to the Tshwane metro, as all sectors of our economy are bleeding as a result of coronavirus pandemic.”
This article first appeared on Rekord East and was republished with permission.