Workers in the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality have given their bosses an ultimatum to stop hiring private companies to fix broken pipes and leaking taps or face protests and instability.
Disgruntled infrastructure workers yesterday downed tools and held a sit-in at the Lillian Diedericks Building in Govan Mbeki Avenue, demanding managers address their grievances.
The workers are demanding that the municipality cut ties with companies contracted to do infrastructure work, such as fixing leaking pipes, grass cutting and meter reading.
Workers allege some of the companies hired to do the work often do not do a proper job, meaning the workers have to redo what the companies were hired to do.
The workers want the municipality rather to let them work overtime and pay them an allowance instead of outsourcing the work.
At a meeting yesterday with the workers, infrastructure and engineering executive director Walter Shaidi said the municipality was battling a major backlog and had to hire companies as it did not have sufficient capacity.
“We appreciate that some of the grievances you raised are valid and [are] meant to improve your working conditions and service delivery. But some of the issues raised are beyond the scope of our responsibility and need further consultation, because contractors are employed by the city manager and not me, and therefore we will have to engage in due processes before any decision is taken on that,” Shaidi said.
Water inspector Nonzolo Nkosana said municipal management should take workers seriously and not only appear when there were problems and workers had downed tools.
“If management can get into the habit of consulting with workers prior to the process of work planning and budgeting, then we wouldn’t be in this crisis,” Nkosana said.
Management promised to discuss workers’ grievances and report back on Friday.