City Parks leaves grass cutters jobless

About 1000 grass cutters have been put out of work at the stroke of a pen after the Johannesburg City Parks department allegedly cancelled their contracts without giving any notice.

About 1000 grass cutters have been put out of work at the stroke of a pen after the Johannesburg City Parks department allegedly cancelled their contracts without giving any notice.

The decision, which was taken recently, affects 29 contractors who each employ about 35 workers. Furious contractors said this week that the abrupt termination of their contracts flew in the face of assurances they were given late last year that their contracts under the Expanded Public Works Programme would soon be extended for three years.

Motswako News Agency has a copy of a memo signed by Geoffrey Cooke, the operations executive of parks and cemeteries. It says: "Dear colleagues, please stop with immediate effect the use of contractors listed below ."

It then lists the 29 contractors who are now without any income.

A contractor who wished to remain anonymous said: "We were even told to buy more equipment to prepare for the new environment, but now we face bankruptcy because we followed the city's advice."

He did not wish to be identified because he feared his company might be victimized when seeking tenders in the future.

City Parks spokesperson Jenny Moodley confirmed the decision, saying grass cutting and tree pruning services had been put out to tender on February 19, "using a fair and transparent process".

She said "the process is aimed at enabling Johannesburg City Parks and its service providers to comply with the Municipal Finance Management Act and City Parks procurement policies".

She failed to answer questions about the assurances given last year. - Motswako News Agency

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