The intended strike by the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) at Rand Water has been called off pending a ruling by the Labour Court on Wednesday afternoon.

This after the water utility lodged an urgent court application to interdict Samwu members from embarking on an indefinite strike over performance bonuses.

Rand Water communications manager Teboho Joala said: “We want to interdict the strike. The union said it is calling it off until the court rules on the matter. We expect the court to make a ruling [on Wednesday] afternoon.”

Joala said Rand Water approached the court on an urgent basis because Samwu leadership did not follow due process as enshrined in the labour legislation to embark on the industrial action, which was scheduled to start at 8am on Wednesday.

“The second issue is that [the union] says the performance bonus is part of the terms and conditions of employment, but it’s a discretionary bonus paid at the discretion of the board,” said Joala.

Samwu Gauteng deputy secretary Mamorena Madisha said the union is “obviously opposing [the application]” and that it will make a decision on the way forward after the court ruling.

Rand Water is crucial to the economy as it supplies Gauteng’s three metropolitan municipalities, local municipalities, mines and other industries, as well as parts of Mpumalanga, the North West and the Free State with an average of 3.653-million litres of potable water daily.

Rand Water CEO Sipho Mosai told Business Day on Tuesday that the strike will not lead to water supply disruptions as the majority of employees are essential service workers.

Mosai clarified that of the staff complement of about 3,000, only about 1,000 are non-essential service workers. The supply and distribution of water is classified as an essential service and essential service workers are prohibited from striking.

He stressed that it would be “a serious offence that may even lead to dismissals” if the utility’s essential service employees participated in the strike. 

On Monday, Samwu threatened the strike would cut the water supply to millions of Gauteng residents after accusing the company of failing to consult with it before deciding not to pay performance incentive bonuses.

Samwu is the country’s largest union in the local government sector, representing more than 260,000 municipal workers. Madisha said the union has 2,100 members at Rand Water.

On Tuesday, Madisha said while essential service workers would not be prevented from reporting for duty, the water supply was not guaranteed.


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