Steve Tshwete Municipality reinstates dismissed workers over unprotected wage strike

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The Steve Tshwete Municipality in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, has reinstated the 500 workers whose contracts were terminated after they embarked on an unprotected wage strike.

This follows an urgent meeting between representatives of Cosatu, the dismissed workers and the employer.

The workers were dismissed for demanding a salary grading of level 6 from level 4.

Steve Tshwete Municipality sitting in Middelburg has been for years amongst the best municipalities in delivering services to its people in Mpumalanga.

After the municipal election, it is now a hung municipality.

For the past 58 days, employees downed tools demanding wage grading of level six from level four. The municipality decided to dismiss them for being on a prolonged strike.

An urgent meeting was called between the employer, Cosatu and the leaders of the affected employees to solve this issue.

“Our demands were to get reinstatement and our salary wage to be graded. We managed to achieve that through Cosatu yesterday, assisting us the whole night. We came to an agreement in black and white that we are in a situation whereby our administrator is now cooperating in grading us and giving everything and demands we have to ask for,” says Thandi Mahlangu.

This meeting resolved that the workers be reinstated after they had threatened to shut down the town of Middelburg in protest against their dismissal. Some of the affected employees are happy that they will be returning to work.

“We are happy that we are reinstated to our work. Everything will go back to normal and we gonna clean our town as usual. We are happy that our organisation and our manager have come together and solved this problem,” an employee said.

“Tomorrow we start working even today those who want to work overtime and standby by they can start the strike is over,” another employee said.

“It was very much painful for me about the issue that was happening here and the strike at large,” an employee explains.

Service delivery was also affected in this municipality. But the community of Mhluzi stood in solidarity with the workers.

“Is something that the municipality is not doing well, it’s not fair on behalf of these workers so that is why we said let go all out and assists, let go all out and help the workers so that they can go back to work because the people they really complaining about the services, the rate and taxes of the municipality,” says community member.

“The talks of yesterday didn’t come to conclusion; our municipality is now graded to level six. It was going to be a total shutdown in Steve Tshwete and was going to affect our mines. It was going to affect all the workers in the community,” another community member explains.

Meanwhile, Cosatu in Mpumalanga says the issues of wage disparities in this municipality started in 2007. The management of Steve Tshwete has been blamed for their snail pace in solving these issues.

“We were always closer to the struggle of the workers. The issue under this municipality started around  2017, we’ve been always there and closer to this issue for them to get resolved. What the workers were raising was to take forward what the federation was always advancing advocating and standing for,” said Cosatu Provincial Secretary, Thabo Mokoena.

The Steve Tshwete Municipal Manager was unavailable to comment on the latest decision of reinstating the workers.

VIDEO:  Steve Tshwete municipality – Residents, workers on strike over poor service delivery and pay grades