Kwa-Zulu Natal Premier Willies Mchunu said striking eThekwini workers who have caused damages to municipal infrastructure would be held accountable.
Mchunu was giving an update on the government’s strategy in dealing with the prolonged illegal strike, at the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) offices in Durban during a media briefing on Friday.
The striking eThekwini municipal employees from the Water and Sanitation Unit, including Durban Solid Waste (DSW), caused major gridlock in the Durban CBD.
Mchunu said the workers had used municipal vehicles and reportedly caused damages to infrastructure.
“In terms of protests, we are beginning to quantify what unions are liable for. Our task is to ensure that they are held to account for any damage to property. If the municipality has incurred costs as a result of this strike, it must be quantified, and the bill must go to them.”
Durban municipal workers’ illegal strike caused R3.5m in damage
Mchunu said the cost of the damage on the eThekwini municipal infrastructure, is over R3, 5 million.
He added that this figure excludes the impact on the economy, as it is still being quantified and the cost of hiring privately owned water tankers where reservoirs and valves have been tampered with.
“We are informed that 90% of the water services have been restored.”
What are the issues?
Municipal workers embarked on the protest action following allegations that MK Veterans employed by the municipality were given undue pay rises.
This has resulted in streets being blockaded and water turned off to parts of the city. Workers are asking to be elevated to grade 10.
What government is doing address the strike
“We are taking the concerns of labour seriously.”
As part of efforts to get to the bottom of the union concerns Mchunu said they have taken the following decisions:
- To appoint an independent attorney to investigate the allegations of assault against union officials.
- Advised the city to consider reviewing decisions which may have been improperly made; these include the amendment to the staff establishment and the grading and recruitment processes. The city has informed us that they are in the process of implementing this advice.
- Referred the demands of the unions to the relevant bargaining council.
Mchunu further cautioned workers against embarking on any illegal actions.
“Any unprotected strike opens you up to civil claim. We don’t want a repeat of this thing. People cannot just wake up and embark on an illegal strike. There are laws that they are well aware of.
“We wish to re-iterate our call to all stakeholders to put the welfare of all the citizens first. We can disagree in a patriotic manner without being insensitive to the lives of our communities; it is an immoral act to use an essential service such as water as a bargaining chip against our people.
“Water is life as enshrined in our Bill of Rights which says that all South Africans have a right to life. When we are still trying to recover from the devastation caused by floods, we cannot engage in such immoral behaviour of denying residents water. We once again, call on everyone involved in this practice to pause and think of the consequences of their actions for people who have already suffered enough.”