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Taps 'could run dry' as Samwu plans strike to support Rand Water workers

19 April 2021 - 19:34 By orrin singh
Members of Samwu are expected to embark on what it describes as a noble and justifiable national strike in support of Rand Water workers on Wednesday. File photo
Members of Samwu are expected to embark on what it describes as a noble and justifiable national strike in support of Rand Water workers on Wednesday. File photo

Water shortages could be on the cards on Wednesday as members of the South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) and workers at Rand Water look to embark on an indefinite strike for wage increases, among other grievances. 

Samwu Gauteng deputy provincial secretary Mamorena Madisha said in a statement on Monday that Rand Water should consider the pending strike as a “dry run” for what is coming its way. 

“Samwu will be presenting its salary and wage demands at the Amanzi bargaining council which includes all of the country's 12 water boards. The decision that we have taken to go on strike is a painful one as we know that taps will definitely run dry in all areas that are serviced by Rand Water. However, this is a noble, justifiable and well within our rights,” said the union.

He charged that Rand Water had changed employees' conditions of service without consultation. 

Madisha said among the union's demands were: 

  1. A single-year salary and wage agreement.
  2. A R4,000 salary increase for all workers under the auspices of the SALGBC. 
  3. A R15,000 sectoral minimum wage.  
  4. A R3,500 housing allowance for all workers. 
  5. 80% employer medical aid contribution and 20% employee contribution. 
  6. Six months fully paid maternal leave and one month fully paid paternity leave. 
  7. A 25% employer contribution towards pension.

“We want to categorically and unambiguously state to Rand Water and all other water boards that Samwu is ready to defend its members and will not stand idle when their gains are being reversed.” 

He said the union  had successfully referred a dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) regarding the unilateral change of conditions of employment and service for workers as communicated by the employer to workers on March 31. 

“The employer has already been informed of our intentions to go on strike from April 21. Despite the CCMA ruling in the union's favour the employer has decided that they will not comply with the order.” 

Rand Water on Monday disputed claims by Samwu that it had failed to consult the union before making a decision not to pay employees performance incentive bonuses. 

The bulk water supply entity assured the public that it had adequate systems in place to ensure a sustained supply of bulk potable water to customers. 

“All our customers and stakeholders will be kept fully informed of any developments, as necessary on this matter. Rand Water has sound relations with its employee-affiliated unions, based on the concept of good labour-management relations being fundamental to good corporate management. We remain committed to engaging with the union to reach a resolution.”