South Africa

Court makes interdict against strike permanent

Tshwane metro has finally been given room for fresh air after the Labour Court in Braamfontein, Johannesburg called for the more than seven weeks of destruction and violence to cease.

Spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said the court hs granted Tshwane a permanent interdict against its striking employees on September 15, after it had been granted an interim interdict on July 28, 2023.

Since the interim order, several of Tshwane’s A Re Yeng and TBS buses have been stoned, bus drivers intimidated and threatened, leading to services being grounded.

since July 24, Tshwane also had its fleet of vehicles, those of contractors and the entrance to the metro offices in Centurion vandalised and set alight.

City manager, Johann Mettler said the metro had approached the Labour Court urgently following an unlawful and unprotected protest by employees he claimed were affiliated to labour union Samwu.

He claimed union members had been at the helm of intimidating their non-striking colleagues and causing damage to property in Tshwane.

“The city’s management made a case in court that the strike action be declared unlawful and unprotected, an argument acceded to by the court, on July 28, when it granted the city an interim interdict against the strike.”

Mettler said the employees were now bound by the court order which forbade them from participating in the strike action and performing any acts of destruction and violence.

“This permanent interdict confirms that strikers are restrained from performing any acts of destruction of any private or public property, or from performing acts of intimidation towards any employee,” he said.

“Tshwane trusts that the strikers will respect and comply with the permanent court order.”

Mettler has since ordered employees to return to work and discharge their responsibilities of providing service delivery to residents and customers.

In the wake of flareups of violence in the metro last week, Samwu maintained it had never sanctioned any strike in Tshwane.

Strike action held Tshwane hostage for weeks as worker unions Imatu and Samwu fought with the metro over annual salary increases.

In July, Tshwane employees became furious when they saw their payslips which did not reflect the 5.4% salary due, leading to further violence and march on July 26.

The metro claimed the increase would cost it R602-million, which it could not afford.

The failure to increase salaries violates an agreement local government – metros and municipalities – represented by Salga, made with worker unions in 2021 when the parties agreed to a 5.4% increase year-on-year for three years.

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On August 10, the metro applied to the South African local government bargaining council (SALGBC) for an exemption from this agreement.

It was however denied on September 10, forcing the city to pay its 29 000 employees an increase this year.

It has subsequently said it planned to go to court to review the SALGBC decision.

Samwu Gauteng secretary Mpho Tladinyane said the sporadic acts of violence within Tshwane were not of their doing.

He said Samwu had been concerned over the violence since July 24.

“The union condemns these acts of violence which seek to undermine the legitimate demands by workers and we reiterate that our members are, and have always been, at work.”

Tladinyane claimed Tshwane was dragging its feet in resolving the salary increase impasse, which in turn created an opportunity for criminal elements to hijack the noble demands of workers.

“These are our members who have been targeted with the tools of trade which our members should be using to deliver services to residents.”

He said the municipal workers were also residents of Tshwane and had no interest in interrupting service delivery, as they were similarly affected.

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