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MEDIA STATEMENT: George Municipality statement on unprotected strike action

Further to the unprotected (illegal) strike that took place on Friday 4th June, George Municipality has been made aware that certain municipal workers will continue their strike action today, Monday 7th June. Today’s strike action remains unprotected and therefore illegal, as there are certain procedural aspects which must be complied with in order to embark on a protected strike. These include referring a dispute to the Bargaining Council and allowing for a period of 30 days to afford parties to the dispute an opportunity to resolve the dispute. The intention to strike should be submitted to the employer with 48 hours’ Notice, which has not happened. George Municipality will not tolerate illegal action, and as such will adopt a no work, no pay stance as well as implementing procedures for dismissal where applicable.

As stated to the media on Friday, the strike action revolves around a request for “danger payment” i.e. in addition to their full monthly salaries already received, for work performed during the Covid-19 Lockdown. The work performed which is referred to, are the standard tasks undertaken as per each worker’s job description. Organised labour has demanded a sum of R20 000 per person, for a period of 9 months, which totals a lumpsum of R64 million rand. This demand is unable to be met by George Municipality, given the losses and financial impact Covid-19 has had on the municipality itself. The payment of R64 million would essentially financially cripple the municipality at a time when there are huge infrastructure demands for the city and place the burden directly on the public in the form of additional rate increases.

It must also be noted that statements made to the media by members of the action on Friday, inaccurately refer to a sum of R20 billion paid out by National Government for the intention of Covid19 relief to local municipalities. George Municipality can categorically state that the only funds received from the provincial government during Covid19 lockdown, was a sum of R1 million for the provision of food parcels to affected residents, and R500 000 for the supply of chemical toilets, during the hard lockdown. No other financial support was given to George Municipality and the onus for the purchase of all protective equipment etc for staff, was undertaken by the Municipality using own funding. Given the financial impact of Covid-19 on our local economy, the management of the municipality also deems the demand as unreasonable given that all municipal workers retained their full salaries at a time when many private sector employees had their salaries either reduced or in fact lost their jobs. The municipal workers also received annual bonuses which many workers in the private sector did not receive.

During the ongoing negotiations, the administration has offered the workers instead two (2) additional days of paid leave, subject to approval from Council. The Unions are expected to follow the correct procedures should they wish to oppose the offer made and as indicated refer a dispute to the Bargaining council. No dispute has been referred in the matter and neither has a certificate of non-resolution been issued.

Acting Municipal Manager, Dr Michele Gratz confirms that the administration will endeavour to ensure that all services will continue with alternative arrangements put in place. Residents are requested to put out their refuse bags as per normal for Monday collection areas noting that collection will take place, albeit possibly later than usual. Further updates with regard to services which may be affected will be issued on an ongoing basis and we ask the public to please check our social media channels and website for updates.