Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni yesterday received a fair share of the municipal workers’ criticism when he was told to back off from the ongoing wage negotiations and stop suggesting that the government would not afford salary increments.
This was during a march spearheaded by the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) on the streets of Pretoria.
At the heart of the workers’ demands is a salary increase of R4 000 across the board and housing allowance of R3 500, irrespective of whether an employee has a bond or not.
Led by the national Samwu president Nelson Mokgotho, workers converged at the old Putco bus depot in Marabastad before heading to the National Treasury, where they delivered their memorandum of grievances.
Later in the day they proceeded to Tshwane House, where they handed over another memorandum to Finance MMC Mare-Lise Fourie.
Addressing workers outside the National Treasury offices, Mokgotho took a swipe at Mboweni, saying: “Our collective agreement does not speak about Tito Mboweni.
“We didn’t negotiate with Tito Mboweni. We negotiate with the SA Local Government Association (Salga). National Treasury must do its work: Give the departments money, give municipalities money and leave us to go and negotiate and not influence negotiations even before we start.”
Mboweni has repeatedly expressed concerns about the government wage bill, saying the plan was to cut it by R300 billion in the next three years.
Mokgotho also slammed the association for its proposal of a 2.8% wage increment, saying the offer was rejected and won’t be accepted.
“What has been offered to us has been rejected and we are going to reject everything that comes below inflation,” he said.
His tirade unleashed against Salga was made before another round of salary increase negotiations, which is expected to start tomorrow in Durban.
“On Thursday when we arrive in Durban the first thing we will demand from Salga is: ‘Where is our R4 000?’ If they don’t talk about our R4 000 the meeting is closed.
“We declare a dispute. We are not going to be romantic and ’sanitise’ them,” Mokgoto said.
Gauteng Samwu secretary, Bafana Zungu, who joined the march, reiterated the call by at least 63 000 municipal workers in the province to have negotiations in good faith at the collective bargaining council.
He said the negotiations had already sat three times with no progress made, saying the National Treasury was interfering with the negotiations.
“We are not yet on strike, but should the need arise nothing will stop us.”
Outside Tshwane House, workers were addressed by Tshwane regional secretary Mpho Tladinyane, who also reiterated a call for better salary increments.
Tladinyane further bashed the City for claiming that it was insolvent while it continued to outsource municipal services to private companies.
This was an indirect attack on mayor Randall Williams, who recently declared that the City was broke given that its current liability amounted to R14 billion and its current assets amounted to R11bn.
Tladinyane said: “Currently when you go to the Pretoria West waste department you will find drivers there without trucks.
“Instead, work is being given to private companies. If you go to the Parks department, instead of seeing municipal workers doing grass-cutting work, it is given to private companies.”
The municipal workers also called for the removal of the acting city manager Mmaseabata Mutlaneng, saying she had overstayed her period in the municipality.
They said Mutlaneng, who was part of the administrators appointed by the ANC-provincial government last year to take over the running of the City, should have departed with them.
Workers expressed unhappiness about the dilapidated and unsafe buildings of the municipality, the intimidation of shop stewards by senior managers and challenges at the metro police department, among other grievances
Fourie, who received the workers’ memorandum, was given an ultimatum to respond in five days, and she promised to give feedback.
“We acknowledge receipt of your memorandum and we will give a response based on facts,” she said.
Meanwhile, the City has cautioned residents of possible service delivery disruptions as a result of yesterday’s protest action.
“Some of our staff members have reported being unable to carry out their duties due to the protest under way. We are exploring various options of stabilising the situation,” the City said.
It further assured residents that law enforcement agencies would protect personnel and municipal assets in the face of possible intimidation and threats.