Unions Claim Victory In Port Elizabeth Municipal Back Pay Agreement

Trollip says coalition council has resolved decades of impasse with workers.
Port Elizabeth municipal workers on strike in June demanding back pay.
Port Elizabeth municipal workers on strike in June demanding back pay.
Joseph Chirume

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipal workers will finally get their long-service back pay bonuses. On Friday morning the coalition government unanimously supported the motion to fork out about R44 million and pay the workers, who had embarked on a week-long strike last month under the banner of SAMWU (South African Municipal Workers' Union ) and IMATU (Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union).

Political parties in council, including the DA, UDM, Cope, AIC, United Front and the EFF, all supported the motion.

"It's victory to the workers," said SAMWU secretary Mqondisi Nodongwe. "This is what we fought for. We are happy that all parties supported the motion ... The agreement signed is saying that the money must be paid before 15 July. We expect that this will happen as council decisions are implemented immediately."

Workers are expected to be paid R10,000, R16,000 or R21,000, depending on the years they worked.

Executive Mayor Athol Trollip said, "This coalition government has actually been able to resolve the impasse that has been there for decades. It didn't start post the 3 August 2016 by-elections."

However, he said, "During the strike individuals were intimidated and property vandalised ... We will not tolerate that in our Constitutional democracy."

"The strike did not reflect well as some of the workers were intimidated. I hope not to see that kind of behaviour again," said Trollip.