Employees of the Bela-Bela Municipality marched in protest against deplorable working conditions on 8 June.  
Photo:  Justin Steyn

Worker Power


Justin Steyn   l   Views: 133

Bela-Bela municipal workers punched the air in anger over a series of unsolved issues on Thursday, 8 June.

Workers from all divisions took issue with a number of matters and picketed in front of the municipality, where they toyi-toyied and chanted, pressing home demands for answers.

South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) regional secretary, Eliot Molala, said the disgruntled workers demanded answers on burning issues such as, among others, outsourcing and workplace safety.

“There are a lot of issues pertaining to outsourcing, working conditions and victimization, to name a few, that the workers are not happy with. We have gathered to put forward our list of demands for the municipality’s response,” he charged.

However, no agreement could be reached on the day as senior municipal personnel were reportedly out of town, apparently away to a summit in Cape Town.

The workers returned on Monday, 12 June, when Mayor Jeremiah Ngobeni received their memorandum of demands.

The memorandum demanded, among others, that all vacant posts be filled, with particular emphasis to the waste management and IT divisions.   

A fully-fledged and functional fleet of vehicles should be provided, the workers demanded.

Outsourcing is also a major headache and employees have demanded that all advertising and travelling be halted immediately.

With regards to housing, workers demanded the fast-tracking of the provision of middle-income stands.

Workplace safety in terms of tools of trade and clothing was also among the burning issues.

“Failure to provide these will leave SAMWU with no option but to consider a work stoppage (until workers’ safety is guaranteed),” the memorandum states.

Some of the protesters claimed they have been victimized due to political contestation.

“We demand that victimizations of workers based on the political factions in the ANC be stopped,” Molala said, addressing Ngobeni.

Furthermore, employees feel voiceless as the memorandum claims inputs during community imbizos have not been addressed.

Workers further pressed home demands for workplace upward mobility, and a skills development programme in this regard.

The memorandum further makes damning allegations that the employer made deductions from workers’ April salaries, and that these monies be refunded.

In response Ngobeni told The BEAT all vacant posts had been filled, and that as far as he was concerned a new fleet had been delivered. 

New protective clothing, he said, was to be provided at the beginning of July. 

He also urged workers not to involve themselves in politics; to “stop acting like politicians”.

12 months ago       14 June 2017