19 June 2018

South Africa: PE Municipal Workers Threaten to Intensify Strike

Workers demanding back pay

Shouts of "voetsek Trollip" echoed through the centre of Port Elizabeth on Tuesday as the municipal workers' strike entered the fourth day with workers demanding back-pay.

The striking workers were referring to mayor Athol Trollip. They toppled rubbish bins, burned objects and dragged them across the busy Govan Mbeki Avenue, blowing vuvuzelas near the taxi rank.

Deputy regional secretary of the South African Municipal Workers' Union Melikhaya Kortjan shouted, "The employer behaves as if there is nothing happening."

"It is clear that they don't care about us as they haven't convened a meeting with us."

Standing alongside the leaders of the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union in front of the 17-storey Lillian Diedericks building, Kortjan shouted, "We will intensify the strike because the employer does not want to listen."

He told the whistling strikers that municipal employees from neighbouring Uitenhage would join them in Port Elizabeth early on Wednesday.

"We will go to the Woolboard Exchange where both the mayoral committee meeting and the council meeting will sit. We will dance in front of them."

The protesters marched past the shops which owners closed against looting.

Another worker shouted: "Remember, our enemy is Trollip and not foreigners!"

"Please let's refrain from stealing, comrades!"

Imatu chairman in the Nelson Mandela Bay region Anthony Gallant said the strike was a last resort.

The march ended at the City Hall, where workers banged on the door leading to the mayor's office, which was closed. They dispersed and left.

Councillor Annette Lovemore Mayoral Committee member for Corporate Services said the municipality was committed to the speedy resolution of the strike.

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