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SOUTH AFRICA : Essential services not affected.

Municipal workers went on strike today over wage demands, but the City said essential services had not been disrupted, and it had contingency plans.

Essential municipal services had not been disrupted or affected by the strike called by municipal workers affiliated to the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), said council spokesperson Nthatisi Modingoane.

Municipal employees downed tools this morning over a deadlock in wage negotiations. They are demanding that the South African Local Government Association (Salga) increase their salaries by 18percent. Salga is offering 6,08percent as per a multi-year salary agreement it reached with the unions in 2009.

In that deal, workers got a 13percent increase in that year, an 8,48percent rise in 2010 and should get a 6,08percent hike in the current fiscal year.

In terms of the agreement, the minimum wage for municipal workers was R3850 a month from July 2009, rising to R4000 in January 2010. Housing subsidies were R100000 for the 2009/2010 fiscal year, R110000 for the 2010/11 fiscal year and R135000 for the 2011/12 fiscal year.

This wage increase was in line with the consumer price index (CPI) plus 2percent. However, unions are arguing that negotiations should be re-opened because of volatile economic conditions as a result of constant inflation.

Modingoane confirmed that the strike had not affected essential municipal services, as they "were operating at full capacity today". However, work attendance figures were still being consolidated in City departments and at municipal-owned entities for submission to Salga, the employer body.

Modingoane said that by noon "no challenges" had been reported at its departments and companies, which include Pikitup, Joburg Water, Metrobus, City Power, revenue and customer services. "The situation at the City s clinics was positive and all clinics are open and operating," he said.

In previous Samwu strikes, picketing has been marred by the trashing of rubbish bins and the vandalising of council property. Inner city streets were piled with waste strewn by angry strikers, resulting in major backlogs in basic municipal service delivery.

Following such incidents, the City issued a stern warning against strikers who vandalised council property, saying they would face the full might of the law and that the union would be held liable if such behaviour was to be repeated.

Modingoane said alternative plans had been put in place to ensure that essential services would not be affected. "We anticipate that we will be able to handle all customer issues and confirm that we have contingency plans in place," he said.

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Title Annotation:municipal workers on strike for minimum wages
Publication:Mena Report
Geographic Code:6SOUT
Date:Aug 16, 2011
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