Council workers want manager to go

Municipal workers at the Burchell Drive depot in Francis Evatt Park want their superintendent gone
Municipal workers at the Burchell Drive depot in Francis Evatt Park want their superintendent gone
Image: Werner Hills

Nelson Mandela Bay municipal workers at the Burchell Road depot are gunning for their superintendent, demanding she be removed from her job for “undermining” them.

But the acting roads and stormwater superintendent, Xoliswa Khalimane, said she had been attacked merely for enforcing an instruction from her bosses to ensure workers clocked out at 4pm and not 10 minutes earlier.

She said they also refused to be managed by a woman. Workers affiliated to the SA municipal workers' union protested at the entrance of the depot on Friday, burning tyres, logs and trash.

They also allegedly threw stones in Khalimane’s direction. Khalimane, who was visibly shaken when a team from Weekend Post arrived at the depot, locked herself in her office fearing she might be attacked.

Khalimane said it had all started in May when workers said they did not want her occupying her position anymore.

“This thing started in May. There was a situation where we had to form a painting team for our workers and the instruction I got was to select people to form this team.

“We didn’t see eye-to-eye with the workers when this selection process took place.” She said after expressing their unhappiness with the selection, the workers had gone to their union, Samwu, and Makhalimane alleged that Samwu demanded that they change the selection process.

“We can never be managed by a union when we have to make decisions that affect operations. We are here to manage; let us manage as that’s what we’re here to do, and that’s where matters escalated.”

Khalimane said she was told workers were not happy with the management at the depot as it kept changing policy. She said another aspect that escalated matters was an issue with the clocking system.

“We were called by management because our workers were clocking out at 3.50pm instead of 4pm and the way it was projected to me was to tell our workers that they should clock out at 4 o’clock,” she said.

Samwu regional secretary, Mqondisi Nodongwe, said workers were protesting over the failure by the municipality to resolve their grievances.

“The conduct of the manager is rude, arrogant and undermines the workers. To us, this means the municipality doesn’t care about the wellbeing of its e m ployees,” Nodongwe said.

He said three months ago, the municipality had taken a decision to place Khalimane elsewhere and said she should be investigatd for her conduct, but instead “they forcefully returned her to this workplace”.

“As long as they treat workers with such arrogance, we are not prepared to have her at the depot,” he said. City manager Johann Mettler said they were aware of the situation and he was asked that Khalimane be temporarily moved out of the office.

“A petition has been submitted and is being attended to, however a formal grievance in accordance with the collective agreement has not been submitted,” he said.

Mettler condemned the actions of the protesters and said the municipality did not tolerate acts of intimidation.