The planned national municipal strike by 130 000 Samwu union members on this coming Monday smacks of opportunism because there are adequate recently agreed mechanisms and processes in place to deal with such grievances.
It is hoped that should the strike take place that the police will be on hand to monitor acceptable behaviour and take decisive action against those who trash streets and damage property.
As little or no legal action has been taken against such culprits before, Samwu must be held criminally and civilly liable for any such action by their followers during the strike.
It is interesting to note that the other national municipal union Imatu has elected not to participate in the strike.
With a 13 percent wage agreement implemented last year for all municipal staff the hard pressed consumer is again being asked by Samwu grievances to again fork out more to reward workers who frankly are not adequately servicing the municipal needs of the country as seen by ongoing service delivery protests country wide.
Thus this planned action shows the country that Samwu is governed by a self interest agenda rather than an agenda for service to the overall good of the country.
While acknowledging the Constitutional right to strike, this must always be done in a responsible manner and when all other avenues to seek a solution have been exhausted.
Therefore the legal interdict by the South African Local Government Association (Salga) to oppose this strike is correct.
The issues of the strike regarding job evaluation and legal representation at disciplinary hearings as well as wage issue disputes have all been discussed and negotiated at length to which Samwu was party to and endorsed these agreements.
The grievance of job evaluation been cascaded to all levels of municipal staff has been concluded in a national collective agreement signed in 2003 wherein the TASK evaluation system was agreed to.
A multiyear wage agreement concluded late last year increasing the minimum wage and allowing for incremental wages hikes holds until 2012.
Furthermore, as agreed by Salga, Samwu and Imatu any new grievances would be heard by a commissioner next month as reported in the media.
Having consulted with Nelson Mandela Metro council colleagues on this issue, I am informed that some 80 percent of job evaluations have been completed for Metro staff and certain categories of back pay have been given to employees.
Thus there should be no reason why the municipal services of the Metro and other provincial municipalities should be disrupted by the planned strike.
Striking in solidarity with one’s Samwu colleagues in other areas is also unacceptable and will again have enormous monetary and service costs to the province- extra costs and service disruptions the Metro and other municipalities in the province can ill afford.
As part of the DA’s Agenda of Accountability and a force for change, I shall be monitoring what action (if any) the MEC for Local Government will be taking should a strike have occurred that was interdicted as illegal by the courts.
I will be asking him to publically account for his actions in this regard.
It would appear that much of this mischievous unnecessary striking is done knowing that the consequences for possible discipline and accountability by the ring leaders are nil.
This culture of disrespect to the state must stop and will only be reversed when strong principled and fair leadership is shown by our government ministers.
Furthermore, I shall be engaging with the MEC as to how future strikes could be avoided in such circumstances which have a devastating effect on service delivery.