BCM staff stopped from working by strikers
Scores of Buffalo City Metro workers who pitched up at work on Monday were forced out of their work stations by angry striking workers in East London on Monday.
This was part of the ongoing illegal strike action by South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu)-affiliated workers.
The strike, which has resulted into BCM drowning in a pile of rubbish, is now in its third week.
Workers from the metro’s engineering department, finance department, internal auditing and the Trust Centre where city manager Andile Sihlahla works from were among those who were forced out by the strikers who accused them of being sellouts.
“You have no shame working while we are busy with the struggle. The employer is using you,” sang the protesters.
Police officers were called into the Trust Centre building after Sihlahla told the strikers that workers from his office would not vacate the building on their instruction.
The strikers left for the City Hall after a few workers vacated the Trust Centre building.
They are demanding that BCM pays each employee R100,000 to “apologise” for not fully implementing the job evaluation process which was scheduled to start last year.
Samwu BCM campaigns convener Zola Capu-Capu said: “We have given the employer the amount we want, they did not put anything on the table, so we are still waiting for them to put something on the table. We are taking the workers out because we want Samwu members to join us as we wait for the employer to come back to us with an offer. Asijiki [there’s no turning back].”
The ongoing strike has left BCM on its knees with essential services like water, electricity and refuse collection not delivered to thousands of frustrated residents.
The metro has opted to hire private companies to clean the metro’s filthy streets, however, there has been no significant impact made by the refuse collection trucks as the East London and King William’s Town central business districts remained dirty on Monday.
A special council meeting will be held on Tuesday to discuss a solution to the impasse, council speaker Alfred Mtsi told the Daily Dispatch last week.
However, during his address to the workers on Monday Capu-Capu said the strike item was not on the special council meeting’s agenda.
The workers resolved to meet at the City Hall before the special council meeting on Tuesday.
Mayoral spokesperson Luzuko Buku condemned Samwu’s action.
“The municipality is against these acts of intimidating. We have seen these acts of intimidation and violence against workers who have opted to work, that is why we applied for a court order against these acts.
“We will impress upon the South African Police Service to effect the court order and protect our staff against intimidation because our staff is willing to work,” he said.
Cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Fikile Xasa did not meet with the BCM leaders however officials from his office did.
In a statement on Monday, the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) BCM regional coordinator Zolani Ngesman called on council to resolve the impasse.
“Service delivery cannot be postponed, action needs to be taken to resolve this crisis.”..