/ MEDIA STATEMENT / The content on this page is not written by Polity.org.za, but is supplied by third parties. This content does not constitute news reporting by Polity.org.za.
During yesterday’s meeting of the City of Tshwane Council it became clear that the DA and ActionSA have different ideas of how to deal with strike action that has crippled service delivery for nearly 3-months.
While the matter will be addressed through the multi-party coalition structures, the following must be placed on record in the intervening period.
From the outset it must be understood that the entire strike action arose from a 3-year salary agreement signed by DA Mayor, Randall Williams, committing the City of Tshwane to sub-inflation salary increases of 3.5% in 2021, 4.9% in 2022 and 5.4% in 2023. This agreement was ratified by the Bargaining Council and, as such, became legally enforceable in terms of the Labour Relations Act.
The City of Tshwane has only implemented the 2nd year increase and refused to implement the increase of 2021 and 2023. On both of these occasions, exemption was sought from the Bargaining Council and denied and in both instances, appeals have been lodged with the Labour Court where the 2021 referral has still not been heard.
Under these circumstances a strike was not just likely, but it was the entirely foreseeable outcome of ignoring a collective bargaining outcome.
The City has cited financial difficulties in terms of an inability to meet these previously agreed salary increases which is indisputably a challenge. However, such a challenge can only be dealt with in terms sitting down with the unions and renegotiating a new deal which is both affordable and ensures a stable labour environment.
It is against this background that the decision by Brink to refuse to renegotiate a deal must be called out by ActionSA, as a coalition partner, as short-sighted in the extreme.
Aside from the 3 months of service delivery disruption that the City has already experienced, the dependence on the courts to solve this problem can only result in further instability over the years it will take to resolve this matter. Even from a financial standpoint, the referral of these matters to the Labour Court defers the matters for years but does not remove the contingent liability accruing. Should a court find against the City, as the Bargaining Council already has, those salary increases will become immediately due with back pay over years – effectively crippling the City of Tshwane financially.
ActionSA leaders conducted a tour of various communities across Tshwane yesterday to assess the impact of the strike on basic service delivery and the results were distressing. Erratic or non-existent refuse removal has turned many communities into dumps, bus services have ceased, customer care and building control centres have been intermittently closed and response rates to electricity and water outages and blocked sewer lines have been unreliable.
While the City’s affordability of a wage agreement is critical, so too is the price being paid by residents and communities across the City of Tshwane. It is the absence of this cost of the ongoing strike, especially when further disruption is made likely by the refusal to negotiate, that concerns ActionSA.
ActionSA is committed to the multi-party coalition agreement which, in many instances, speaks of the imperative of stable labour relations that enable service delivery across Tshwane. This commitment makes ActionSA unapologetic when we need to call out a coalition partner that falls short of the standards of this agreement. This is a strength of coalitions rather than single party majority governments that proceed with a course of action even when it is counter to the law, the interests of residents of just basic common sense.
ActionSA will take these concerns to the structures of the multi-party coalition.
Issued by ActionSA National Chairperson, Michael Beaumont