ETHEKWINI MUNICIPALITY AND LABOUR UNIONS MAKE PEACE
By: Gift Nyamapfene
EThekwini Municipality said that it welcomed a R200 million settlement with labour unions that ended a seven-year conflict yesterday.
The municipality signed an agreement with the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) and the Independent Municipal Allied Trade Union (IMATU) on Monday.
City treasurer, Krish Kumar said that the municipality had agreed to meet the unions’ demands for a seven-year back pay amounting to more than R200 million.
SAMWU spokesperson, Nhlanhla Nyandeni confirmed that the municipality had agreed to begin payouts as of May 23.
The dispute between unions and the municipality was about conditions of services in place before municipal divisions were merged in 2007.
EThekwini Municipality phased out conditions of services with the signing of the Collective Agreement on Divisional Conditions of Service, which was effected in April 2007. After a disagreement with municipal authorities, SAMWU drafted a court application to reinstate old conditions of service.
The Supreme Court of Appeal ruled in favour of SAMWU last year but the municipality rejected the ruling stating that it was invalid.
In the last few weeks, the feud intensified when basic service delivery workers and metro police threatened to shut down Durban unless the back pay issue was resolved.
Marchers emptied rubbish bins and blocked roads in the city centre forcing the municipality to hold a late night executive council meeting.
Mayor James Nxumalo said, “The R200million settlement would not be drawn form rates and taxes but from municipal savings and will have no adverse impact on the budget.”
“We are very happy that this matter has been settled and concluded once and for all,” continued Nxumalo.
City Manager, Sibusiso Sithole said that unions and the municipality would meet to discuss the new conditions of service which should be implemented in the new financial year which begins in July 2014.