Municipal strike causes a stink in historic town

Sabelo Sebaka-Ginindza, News24 Correspondent

Baberton - A strike by workers from the Umjindi local municipality in Mpumalanga has caused a stink in the historic mining town of Barberton.

This is after the workers allegedly scattered rotting trails of rubbish and littered streets in the town centre by tipping over rubbish bins and emptied plastic bags containing dirt on Monday.

The workers were demanding that municipal manager Pat Msibi address them on grievances they claim to have submitted last year, which included the amalgamation of the Umjindi and the Mbombela local municipalities.

"The management is quiet and not communicating with us when it comes to the merging of the two municipalities. The workers are unsure about what will happen about their current positions once the merger takes place," said Vusi Mahlalela, South African Municipal Workers Union representative in Umjindi.

The amalgamation of Umjindi and Mbombela will be finalised after the upcoming local government later this year.

Mahlalela said they also wanted the management to address the issue of filling of vacant posts within the municipality.

He said the union wanted the municipality to give permanent contracts to all temporary workers who have been employed for more than three months.

"We also want the municipality to address the issue of workers' safety and health. Our workers, especially those assigned to work at the sewerage plant and at the water purification sites, are not provided with adequate equipment to execute their duties properly. They are exposed to the risk of contracting terminal sickness as they have not been issued protective clothing."

Umjindi municipal spokesperson Sam Jele has asked for a meeting between the management and the workers' representatives.

In the meantime, the workers have vowed to down tools until their grievances are addressed.