I should have intervened earlier, De Lille tells Samwu strikers


Cape Town – Mayor Patricia de Lille told Samwu strikers on Wednesday that the City had failed to resolve all the problems regarding workers, admitting she should have intervened earlier.

“A committee of unions is invited to my office to address outstanding issues not yet resolved. These include grievances about allowances for pregnant firefighters that is not yet resolved.”

She assured them the City was committed to pay full allowances for pregnant firefighters, “whether they are fighting fires or not”. This demand was on the list contained in the memorandum handed to De Lille.

The Khayelitsha fire station and all but one clinic in the area were closed down on Wednesday morning following intimidation and violence by those said to be taking part in the strike, a City of  Cape Town official said.

“In the interests of the safety of everyone, it was better to close these facilities as some staff were physically assaulted and manhandled [on Tuesday],” the city’s safety and security executive director Richard Bosman told News24.

“Staff were severely traumatised and badly affected.”

He said individuals, thought to be part of a SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) strike, had forced patients to leave some clinics and also assaulted a few nurses on Tuesday.

Fences were trampled on and doors were damaged when protesters allegedly forced their way in.

Bosman said the damage to clinic property was provisionally estimated at R20 000.

A clinic in Khayelitsha was open on Wednesday morning, but was set to close as soon as it had seen its last patient.

Striking workers also allegedly forced staff to leave the fire station on Tuesday.

The union’s Mikel Khumalo said their main concerns revolved around wages and female firefighters losing allowances during pregnancy as they were non-operational.

Receiving the memorandum, De Lille told strikers that the city had failed to resolve all the problems regarding workers and admitted that she should have intervened earlier.

Bosman said reports were received that some staff members across the city had been intimidated, including at depots in Parow and Killarney Gardens.

Staff were encouraged to lay charges where necessary.

The City was looking at applying for a court interdict prohibiting Samwu from acts of violence, intimidation and entering council facilities, Bosman said.

Hundreds of workers affiliated to Samwu gathered in the Cape Town CBD on Wednesday morning in a legal protest on the third day of strike action.

Just before midday, hundreds of strikers were seen making their way down Adderley Street.

The strike action has seen 50 areas, from Newlands to Makaza, affected as refuse collection schedules have been interrupted.