At least 6 000 South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) workers of the City of Cape Town will embark on a strike today. They are expected to protest against grievances including allegations of racism and exploitation within the City.
Mikel Khumalo, Samwu’s Cape Metro Regional Secretary told CapeTalk’s Kieno Kammies that there are a broad range of issues that the workers want addressed. He says they have been informed that all black workers at the City's Technical Operations Centre (TOC) will be transferred to another department.
According to Khumalo the City has been racist in its staff relocation procedure. He also highlighted that Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers are being exploited, allegedly being paid less than other municipal workers that fulfill the same duties and working without the guarantee of permanent employment. He says that the City is not filling employment vacancies as they should and is redirecting the funds towards the EPWP. Khumalo also put forward that worker benefits, such as transport services, have been taken away due to budget cuts.
The strike is for much broader issues. The issues of racism are part of the problem, beyond just the TOC depots. This issue comes from way back in 2013 where a commissioner was appointed to conduct an investigation and provide recommendations, which he did. But the City has failed to implement those recommendations and we have been knocking on their door for them to resolve these issues. Then we discovered that there is a move to remove all non-white workers out of the TOC. Following an interview process, it was declared that only white workers are fit to remain at the TOC and all non-white need to move out. We were hoping that the City would come to their senses and act, but unfortunately workers have run out of patience.
A South African Municipal Workers Union strike. Picture credit: AFP.
City official says there is no base to the claims
The City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Corporate Services Xanthea Limberg says that there is no substance to the union’s claims. Limberg says that the City doesn’t believe that there is a justifiable reason to strike today.
Unfortunately this is very far from being the truth. The transfer of staff from the TOC for water services is part of the City’s confoundation process. We are trying to create one point of access for our public to log service requests. We are trying to consolidate the the water and electricity TOC with the corporate contact center. This is phase one of the consolidation.
Listen to the full conversation on Breakfast with Kieno Kammies: