Blantyre City Council strike slated for Dec 4

Employees are at the Blantyre City Council (BCC) are set to down their tools starting on Sunday, December 4, Nyasa Times can reveal.

For the past three weeks the workers have been strategizing on how to reach to every BCC employee at every work station and successfully stage the strike after efforts to have their salaries increased proved futile.

Apart from salary increment, the employees also have a number of other grounds for their impending strike. Among them are the BCC’s failure to adhere to safety and occupational health standards and the conduct of management in giving favours to members of the council’s union and other vocal employees to silence them.

Blantyre City CEO: Ted Nandolo

Last Friday, members of strike organising team calling itself BCC Movement for Real Change (BMRC), conducted a meeting where the strike date was set and a number of other issues were also debated.

One of the commanders of the working group told the Nyasa Times that the issue of promotion at the office also topped the debated during the meeting.

He disclosed that the issue of promotion was heavily debated because since the arrival of Alfred Chanza as the Director of Administrative Services promotions have not been given on merit.

“The council conducted interviews in various departments some few weeks ago and we are waiting for the official results before we react. But we have heard from the grapevine who have been offered the positions and once we establish the truth we will hold our final meeting for the strike because this time around we do not want to be foiled,” explained a member of working group.

According to our source, the successful candidates are expected to receive their letters of promotion and offer of employment this week.

He said the last meeting will be held immediately they receive their November pay slips because salary increment is the main and long over due borne of contention.

“The union assured us some five months ago that it had discussed with management about the salary increment but until now we are hearing nothing,” complained the source.

He claimed that some union members have been offered houses to buy, jobs for their children and loans that is why they are silent.

“We will issue an ultimatum and come Sunday, December 4, 2011, Blantyre City residents will wake up to a rude awaking,” said the member of the team.

He said generally BCC strikes are foiled by members from the security section but “this time we have identified and struck a deal with some disgruntled security staff that are very cooperative and with their inclusion we will beat the system because we have information on how they distract strikes.”

The source added that members of the Fire fighting brigade, who most times distance themselves from industrial actions, have also welcomed the moved.

Nyasa Times investigations revealed that the employees indeed have genuine concerns on the safety and occupational health of the workers.

A casual walk along the streets of Blantyre revealed that most sweepers and cleaners in BCC toilets have no work suits. Similarly, those who move on refuge collection vehicles in the locations generally referred to as a layira, (the ones who move around locations to pick dustbins) do not have work gears a development that exposes them to infections.

A source at the health department said the code governing occupational health and safety stipulates that all sweepers/cleaners wear purple work suits at all times for motorists to easily identify them from afar.

He said as for the refuge collection workers the council is supposed to supply them with fresh milk every day but this requirement was stopped long time ago with the coming of Chanza as director of administration.

“As a result sweepers/cleaners are mostly hit by vehicles because they cannot be seen from far when they are cleaning the roads. Some workers have died, others maimed yet the management is doing nothing to address the situation,” claimed the source in the health department.

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