Mayor apologises to Bfn residents for chaos caused by strike

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Managung Metro Executive Mayor, Olly Mlamleli. PHOTO: SEITHATI SEMENOKANE

Mangaung mayor, Olly Mlamleli, has apologised to residents following weeks of municipal workers who are affiliated to the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), being on strike.
The strike, which started on 17 May 2017, left residents drowning in sewerage and stifled by the stench of uncollected rubbish heaps. Other residents went for weeks without electricity, as Centlec struggled to keep the power going. Public transport was also affected when 64 Interstate buses were vandalised by alleged Samwu members.
Last Friday, 9 June 2017, the Labour Court gave an interim order declaring the strike by Samwu and its members illegal and unprotected. Previous negotiation meetings were held between Samwu and the municipality but an agreement could not be reached.
Mlamleli said the municipality approached the high court once members of Samwu partook in illegal activities during the strike, which was meant to be peaceful. The municipality alleged that Samwu members were involved in the burning of tyres, intimidation, harassment, threats and various other illegal activities. This then led to service delivery being severely hampered.
Non-striking employees were threatened and prevented from doing their work, community members were obstructed from going to the municipal offices, especially to pay for their services, and as a result the municipality has suffered serious revenue loss during the course of the illegal and unprotected strike by Samwu.
“The last time we checked, the revenue that we have lost as a result of the strike is 56 million rand. But as we are speaking, residents are flocking in to the offices to pay for their services, and they are also aware of other pay point areas we have indicated as places where they can go and pay,” said Mlamleli.
Meanwhile Samwu local chairperson, Pule Mabena, called a meeting outside the Batho Community Hall on Wednesday morning. He was giving the workers feedback on the meeting the union had with Mlamleli. Mabena said during the meeting on Tuesday, Mlamleli suggested an increase of R2 500 in workers’ monthly salaries and also to pay the workers a payback of R40 000 sometime during the month of July.
He said the union will also be pushing for the municipality to drop the court interdict it had granted against the workers and he requested the union members to not give up fighting for their requests until a signed agreement between Samwu and the Mangaung Metro Municipality is presented.
Mlamleli assured residents that there is a contingency plan in place to ensure that the various issues faced during the strike are rectified as soon as possible and that criminal cases have been opened against the Samwu members who acted illegally during the strike. – Seithati Semenokane
seithati@centralmediagroup.co.za