eThekwini municipality gets interdict to stop workers causing 'mayhem'

29 February 2024 - 11:54
Municipal workers clean up debris and sand left by striking municipal workers on a freeway near Isipingo, south of Durban
Image: Supplied/eThekwini municipality Municipal workers clean up debris and sand left by striking municipal workers on a freeway near Isipingo, south of Durban

South African Municipal Workers' Union shop stewards and members who embarked on what was described as a “violent” unprotected strike this week have been slapped with a court interdict to desist with their behaviour.

The eThekwini municipality launched the late-night application in the Durban labour court at 10pm on Wednesday

Judge Benita Whitcher granted the application just before midnight.

The application was sparked by what the city said were incidents of violence and intimidation on Wednesday committed by about 500 workers who believed they were not being paid at the same scale as other municipal employees in other provinces.

In his affidavit in the urgent application, senior manager of legal services Lindani Nxumalo said the workers had gathered at Curries Fountain and then marched to the City Hall to present their pay demands, based on salary scales at the Ekurhuleni Metro.

“What followed can only be described as mayhem,” he said.

They had begun acting violently, locking down main roads in the city. They had made fires at the intersection of Electron and Supply roads in Springfield Park and insisted that members of the public gaining access to the road dump their rubbish and refuse on the road, blocking the road with fires.

Durban Solid Waste employees intimidated others with batons and pulled staff out of buildings where they worked.

“There are voice messages directing individuals with clear threats of violence. An employee was shot in the Wyebank area,” Nxumalo said.

“There is every indication that this violence will escalate tomorrow [Thursday].”

He said the impact of an unprotected industrial action, even of a short duration, had a detrimental effect on the entire municipality and the “violence and unlawful conduct are even more serious”.

“The individual members involved have conducted themselves unlawfully, committed serious acts of violence and intimidation of other employees.”

A legal representative of Samwu was present at the court hearing but TimesLIVE understands no papers were filed.

In terms of the interim interdict, provisions of which were made immediately enforceable, the respondents are interdicted and restrained from committing any acts of violence, unlawful conduct, intimidation or interfering with the city’s services or operations.

They have been ordered to comply with their contracts of employment and the provisions of the Labour Relations Act.

The municipality said in a statement: “The grievances that the workers have must be resolved through the appropriate channels. The city calls on leaders of organised labour, with whom the city leadership have a very good working relationship, to rein in their members, so that law and order prevails at all times.”

Samwu did not immediately respond to a request for comment.