Water workers strike on hold till Wednesday

JOHANNESBURG – The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) has suspended a national strike in the water sector until Wednesday, a union official said on Monday.

“Samwu has decided to suspend protest action until Wednesday pending further consultation,” said Samwu national spokesman Tahir Sema.

The strike against the employer body, the SA Association of Water Utilities (Saawu), was to have started on Monday.

Sema said Samwu would hold a national executive council meeting on Wednesday in Johannesburg.

Depending on the outcome of the meeting, the union could afterwards give the final go-ahead for a strike involving about 50,000 workers, including administrators, mechanics and technicians.

Members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) working in the water sector were also expected to join the strike.

Sema said the unions and Saawu last held talks two months ago, but negotiations had failed to resolve their dispute.

“Samwu has been urging the water utility to come to bargaining table… and renegotiate, but this has not happened.

“The employer has indicated it is not willing to budge from a nine percent increase.”

While Saawu had offered the unions a nine percent wage increase, they wanted an increase of between 11 and 13.5 percent.

Sema said a strike in this “strategically important sector” would affect water supply throughout the country.

Saawu represents 18 water boards. It could not immediately be reached for comment.

Samwu is the largest union in the water sector, said Sema.

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