The fifth working day of the strike in Nelson Mandela (Wednesday 20 June) was tense, but productive.
The day began with union members barring many employees who are choosing to work access to their workplaces. This, coupled with the fact that a march was expected, a mayoral committee was scheduled for the morning and a council meeting for the afternoon, led to an exceptionally high SAPS and Metro Police presence in the CBD. Order was generally maintained, although there are reports now, of community protests as a result of the various disruptions in service delivery – with interruptions in water and power provision being of greatest concern.
The Mayoral committee considered an item tabled by the City Manager, detailing the offer already made to the unions in respect of the long service bonus backpay. The City Manager and his team were mandated to commence negotiations this morning, with the offer previously made being the starting point.
The CCMA’s Advocate Bono addressed both unions on the importance of maintaining essential services, and negotiations commenced immediately thereafter, mediated by the CCMA.
Negotiations continued for approximately 4 hours. Good progress has been made, with both unions agreeing to return to their members to discuss an increased offer from the employer. All parties will reconvene tomorrow at the CCMA offices.
A lunchtime march to the City Hall was addressed by various speakers, all of whom spoke politically rather than of the demands that have been tabled. The speakers announced that the matter would be tabled in council in the afternoon.
Indeed, this afternoon all parties agreed in Council that the matter of the strike is a critical one and should be discussed. A caucus was called by opposition parties. These parties then left the council chamber but did not return. Thus no council discussion of the issue took place.
Unfortunately, it has become necessary for the City Manager to seek an urgent interdict to compel compliance with picketing rules and with the requirements of essential services legislation. The process is underway for an interdict to be granted tomorrow.
Thursday’s negotiations are critical. Today, it is pleasing to have reported that some progress has been made towards possible resolution of the current impasse.
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