WHILE there was no clear indication as to whether the strike embarked upon by Lukhanji workers was over this week, some workers could be seen cleaning the streets, raising the hopes of residents.
In a special council meeting on Wednesday, DA councillor Zuko Mandile called for information from the Enoch Mgijima Municipality leaders in a written motion with eight questions, seconded by fellow party councillor Jerome Shaw.
Mandile wanted to know the current status of the strike and if any agreement had been reached as at 8am on Monday between the municipality and the striking workers.
“If the executive mayoral committee or strike management committee have agreed to the payment of any salaries and backpay, from what source will the payment be made and is money available?”
Mandile also asked if any interim precautionary measures had been put in place to ensure that various departments of the municipality operated normally to provide services during the strike and for a landline phone number, cellphone number, e-mail address or fax number that could be used by the public and councillors to communicate with the municipality to get updates on the labour action.
“When is it anticipated that the Deloitte’s report regarding recommendations on benchmarking will be available?” Mandile asked, referring to a report by an auditing company.
Executive Mayor Lindiwe Gunuza Nkwentsha said the executive mayoral committee sat with Samwu leadership for the first time on August 29 when it was agreed issues had to be discussed in legislated platforms such as the local labour forum (LLF), which is expected to convene today.
“We agreed that the strike was illegal and we requested that they go back to work.
“On Monday workers in Whittlesea and former Tsolwana Municipality went back to work,” she said.
There were a few workers who had not returned to their working stations, especially in Komani.
She said Mgijima had not yet promised any payments to workers besides their salaries, adding that the newly-merged municipality had inherited “liabilities” from the three former local government structures of Lukhanji, Tsolwana and Inkwanca.
Gunuza Nkwentsha said there was a service provider cleaning the town in the evenings.
She said the municipality would also look into cleaning the townships using the service provider.
All municipal accounts could be paid at retail stores.
DA councillor Chris de Wet said it was easy to make municipal account payments at retail stores, “but what about service delivery?”
“What we see out there is a health hazard. Every health regulation has been broken. Refuse is not collected and we have children playing in areas where there is refuse lying around,” he said.
Council speaker Mzoxolo Peter said De Wet was exaggerating a matter what everybody already knew.
“How do you expect refuse to be collected if workers are on strike? Negotiations are ongoing and we are on the point of finding solutions.
“All those who have something to contribute towards ending the strike, must come,” Peter said.
A question was also raised as to how people could be expected to pay for services they were not receiving.
Samwu regional secretary Mongameli Mancam could not be reached on the phone at the time of going to press.