A recent headline around the current municipal strike in Nelson Mandela Bay read as follows; “PE municipal workers on strike over back pay from ANC era”.
There are a number of reasons why this particular headline irks me:
- Does it really matter which political regime is to blame?
- Is it not as divisive as references to race?
- What, if any, does it say about the actual strike?
- Does it not make the strikers out to be just a leetle bit doff and slow off the mark?
- Is it not crafted to inflame the reader rather than inform correctly?
Frankly the headline should go to the nub of the matter and simply say; “PE municipal workers on strike over outstanding backpay from 2001”.
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality workers started an indefinite strike last week demanding back pay and improved working conditions.
The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) issued a notice to strike on Wednesday night. On Thursday about 450 workers blocked Lillian Diedericks and Mfanasekhaya Gqoboshe buildings in Govan Mbeki Avenue. The two buildings are where most of the municipal service transactions are conducted, including paying for services.
Striking workers also closed municipal buildings in New Brighton and Uitenhage. Services such as refuse collection and paying of municipal bills were affected as workers joined the strike.
Workers said the strike came after failed discussions with municipality.
According to SAMWU Port Elizabeth regional chairperson, Nomvula Hadi, he most critical demand appears to be for back pay for nearly “3,000 workers who lost their benefits after the amalgamation of Port Elizabeth, Despatch and Uitenhage to form Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality”. Hadi said each worker who was affected by the amalgamation should be paid R30,000.
In 2001, the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality was formed as an administrative area covering Port Elizabeth, the neighbouring towns of Uitenhage and Despatch and the surrounding agricultural areas.