May 25, 2018


Mangaung showdown

Taking to the streets . . . Scores of Samwu members march to Mangaung offices in Bloemfontein at the start of the union’s strike over adjustment of their salaries

Taking to the streets . . . Scores of Samwu members march to Mangaung offices in Bloemfontein at the start of the union’s strike over adjustment of their salaries

 . . . As metro officials and union leaders in the province seek to end the week-long crippling strike action by Samwu members

Mangaung will be waiting with bated breath as the community anticipates the outcome of today’s meeting of the Local Labour Forum (LLF), which is seeking to bring to an end the crippling week-long strike action by members of the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) in Bloemfontein.

The Forum is a statutory body that brings together workers’ unions in the Mangaung metro and their employer organisations.

The meeting, which deputy mayor Lebohang Masoetsa described as an ideal platform to resolve issues afflicting the workers, is hoped to reach an amicable solution to the long drawn stand-off between the workers and the metro over the adjustment of their salaries in accordance with the inception of the Mangaung Municipality becoming a metro back 2010.

Addressing marchers at the metro’s offices on Tuesday, Masoetsa said all issues contained in their memorandum of grievances which he accepted and signed on behalf of executive mayor Olly Mlamleli, would receive attention at today’s meeting.

“What I can tell you is that all of the issues that you raised in this memorandum will definitely be deliberated upon when the labour forum meets on Friday. I can also assure you that the metro is equally committed to rooting out any acts of corruption, and will investigate each case to the fullest,” he said.
He assured the irate workers that their concerns over salary adjustments since the municipality became a metro would also be ironed out at this sitting.
Samwu national president Pule Molalenyane, who was leading the march claimed that the Mangaung metro continues to lose money by using private companies to do work for which there are permanent workers hired to do.

He singled out the metro’s mechanical services workshop as an example, and said workers there remain idle while private companies perform their duties at an exorbitant price.

“In the mechanical workshop of the metro there are artisans and staff hired to do the work, yet we still see the metro hiring private companies to carry out the same work, and in turn these companies charge millions more compared to what the workers get at the end of the month,” Molalenyane contended.

He noted the union is also demanding that there should be no political interference by councillors and members of mayoral committees in the administration of the municipality.

Molalenyane said as part of the local labour forum agreements there should be no termination of temporary workers’ employment contracts.

The labour forum had resolved way back that all temporary workers who had been with the metro for three months or more would be absorbed into the employ of the metro.

The union also demands that unpaid salaries to temporary workers for the month of April in the purification and facilities department be paid out without delay.

Molalenyane also decried the state of the fire department in Phase 3 Mangaung, where the multi-million rand fire station is now a white elephant as it is unused and incapable of assisting with fire situations in the township.

Meanwhile, the provincial chairperson of Samwu in the province, Congo Matshepe, vowed that the strike action by the workers would continue until the metro displayed a genuine desire to resolve issues affecting the workers.

“Our strike will continue unabated until we sit down with the metro and get a genuine sense of interest in solving the issues presented to them. We are hopeful – as promised by the deputy mayor – that the outcomes of the local labour forum on Friday will be positive and we can tell our members to go back to their work stations,” he said.

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