By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) strike at Rand Water will not lead to water supply disruptions as the majority of employees are essential service workers, Rand Water CEO Sipho Mosai said on Tuesday.
Mosai clarified that of the staff complement of about 3,000, only about 1,000 were non-essential service workers. The supply and distribution of water is classified as an essential service, and essential service workers are prohibited from striking.
"The reason they are essential service workers is because we supply water to municipalities that supply hospitals. We can’t afford to have water disruptions during the time of Covid. Water is an essential good," he said.
"I don’t think the Samwu leadership followed right process in terms of going on a protected strike. Our view is that the strike is not protected and their view is that they can go on strike."
He said what was important, however, was that most of our employees that are responsible for providing water to consumers and municipalities won’t be going on strike. Water supply won’t be affected unless there is an act of sabotage."
He stressed that it would be "a serious offence that may even lead to dismissals" if their essential service employees participated in the strike.
On Monday, Samwu threatened the strike would cut the water supply to 15-million residents of Gauteng.
Samwu is the country’s largest union in the local government sector, representing more than 260,000 municipal workers.
The strike will take place at Rand Water’s head office at 522 Impala Road, Glenvista.
Samwu’s demands include a R4 000 salary increase for all workers who fall under the South African Local Government Bargaining Council, a R15 000 sectoral minimum wage, a R3 500 housing allowance for all workers, an 80% employer medical aid contribution and a 20% employee contribution, six months’ fully paid maternity leave and one month’s fully paid paternity leave, and a 25% employer contribution towards employees’ pension funds.
Rand Water supplies Gauteng’s three metropolitan municipalities, local municipalities, mines and other industries, as well as parts of Mpumalanga, the North West and Free State with an average of 3.653-million litres of potable water daily.