KNYSNA NEWS - A strike last week by the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) over "Covid danger pay" was suspended after two days, pending the outcome of further negotiations with the municipality.
The strike came after a draft Danger Allowance Policy, with an estimated budgetary implication of about R10-million, was submitted to the Local Labour Forum (LLF) on Thursday 22 April.
According to Samwu Knysna branch chairman Shaun Kralo, Samwu approached the ANC with queries the following Monday.
The municipal workers wanted a once-off R25 000 danger allowance for front line workers, R15 000 to workers who came to work when requested in the face of the Covid-19 virus and
R7 500 for all workers who worked during all levels of the lockdown. According to Kralo, their demands are based on a South African Local Government circular of 17/03/21, "which states that the compensation must be made to all levels, from level five to level one".
According to Knysna Mayor Elrick van Aswegen all employees of Knysna Municipality had received their full payment packages during the nationwide lockdown and its various alert levels. Reaching a deadlock, they went on strike on Wednesday 28 April.
In a statement on Thursday 29 April, Van Aswegen said Council resolved to reach a compromise with the striking municipal workers. Kralo likewise said that they decided to suspend the strike to allow space for negotiations.
"The parties could not reach a consensus and the issue served as a matter before a special meeting of Council held on 29 April," said Van Aswegen.
"A once-off ex gratia Covid-19 allowance will be paid to staff who worked during alert levels five and four. This is subject to affordability and ongoing talks with workers' unions. We are also evaluating how to address the concerns of our unhappy employees within the relevant legal frameworks," Van Aswegen said.
He indicated that the administration would make the necessary calculations and revert to Council and the LLF. However, Van Aswegen said the strike was "unsanctioned", and Acting Municipal Manager Pravir Hariparsad said since it was not approved by the municipality, no participants will be paid for neglecting their duties while taking part in the unauthorised protest action.
Van Aswegen apologised to residents for any inconvenience the protest action may have caused as it affected the town's water and sanitation, roads and refuse collection units.
"Delivering these services is one of our top priorities. We appreciate and are grateful for all municipal employees' loyalty and dedication to their duties during this global pandemic. We are confident that we can resolve this issue swiftly, legally, and to the benefit of all concerned," he said.
This Monday, Kralo told KPH the LLF will have a special meeting on Thursday (today) to finalise everything.