Municipal workers' strike off

Johannesburg - Municipal workers have suspended their strike planned for Friday after talks with the ANC, SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) spokesperson Tahir Sema said on Tuesday.

"The Samwu national strike action that was to take place this Friday has been suspended, due to the late but welcomed intervention by the African National Congress," Sema said in a statement.

"Samwu's national leadership had been locked in closed door meetings with the ANC and Cosatu for most of yesterday [Monday] and had welcomed the commitment made by the ANC, to look into all areas of concern, raised by the union."

Some 220 000 municipal workers, excluding essential services, were planning a nationwide strike on Friday, five days before local government elections.

Sema said on Monday the union had various concerns, chief among them that local government had failed.

"We have mentioned time and time again, local government is not working for our people. Something drastic needs to be done to turn it around."

He said the strategy proposed by Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka, who has been on sick leave since February, was "hollow" and had "nothing substantial to improve delivery of services".

Samwu was calling for President Jacob Zuma to sack Shiceka as "he is not serving the country".

The union was also demanding that Zuma not sign into law the Municipal Amendment Bill. The bill is intended to "depoliticise" municipalities and ensure they appoint skilled people.

The meeting with the ANC started on Friday at Luthuli House in Johannesburg, with Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe present.

Samwu wanted the scrapping of provincial government, and to have its funds diverted to local government to improve service delivery. It also wanted the government to address its concerns about the alleged victimisation of members who blew the whistle on corruption.

Sema said the union had initially demanded an 18 percent salary increase, but this would be "negotiated down".

"It has been misconstrued in the media that we are demanding 18%... but this is how negotiations work. We put a high figure on the table and negotiate down."

As wage negotiations deadlocked on Friday, the wage demand had now been added to the union's list of grievances it discussed with the ANC.

The salary increases were due to be implemented in July.

Sema said a detailed statement would be issued later on Tuesday.







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