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Striking municipal workers leave eThekwini in the dirt

The uncollected waste in Durban Central. Picture: Pratish Thaker posted on X.

Service delivery has come to a standstill in eThekweni, KwaZulu-Natal, as the municipal workers continue with an “illegal” strike.

The strike started on Tuesday, February 27 2024 by workers affiliated with the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU). They demand a wage increase equivalent to other metropolitan municipal workers.

Mduduzi Mbatha, one of the striking municipal worker’s said it has been hard not going to work over the past few weeks because he has a family to provide for but he must fight for what he believes is right. “I have been working for more than 5 years in the pipelines and sewer department. This strike can make or break my career."

SAMWU regional secretary in eThekweni, Xolani Dube, said a general worker in eThekweni earns R10 000 per month, but general workers in Tshwane and Ekurhuleni earn about R13 900.

To elaborate on this statement, Siyabonga Dladla, the chairperson of SAMWU in the eThekweni region, said that it cannot be right that they are being called a metropolitan based on duties but when it comes to the wage of the workers, the metropolitan status does not reflect.

“We have done our own examination and analysis, we have seen these municipalities graded their pay categories differently to eThekwini,” said Dladla .

Despite SAMWU’s position on the matter, the union said it did not call for a strike and asked workers to return to work because of the interdict that was released by the eThekweni Municipality regarding the strike.

The Mayor of eThekweni, Mxolisi Kaunda, reassured the residents and said as the leadership of the City they will not tolerate anarchy. They are not running a Banana Republic or will they be held to ransom. They are now focusing the attention on restoring basic services such as water and electricity in all areas affected by the illegal strike.

While all of this is happening, it is the residents who are suffering. Thulile Ngubane, from P section in Kwamashu, said the strike has been making it difficult to even take a walk on the road because of the stench of uncollected garbage waste that has been sitting by the roadside for a week.

“We have not had sustainable water for almost a week. It’s been difficult to keep my home clean and hygienic. Doing something normal as using the toilet has become a struggle."

Waste in Durban Central had been sitting like this for weeks on the main roads because of the strike. Picture: Pratish Thaker posted on X

This shows how the community of Kwamashu H section flocked the water truck in numbers to fill their buckets with water. The residents had no water for a week due to the strike. Picture: Nombuso Luthuli

By Nombuso Luthuli for


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