Pikitup looks to employ temps as strike continues

Protestors say casual workers must be absorbed

21 May 2024 - 07:10
By Herman Moloi and PHATHU LUVHENGO
Pikitup's Waterval Depot during a protest last week.
Image: X Pikitup's Waterval Depot during a protest last week.

Pikitup is appealing to residents who are able to dispose of their waste at its integrated waste management facilities to do so.

Pikitup on Monday said it would engage casual workers until a solution is found as the “wildcat” strike continues.

The entity's spokesperson Muzi Mkhwanazi said about 10 depots were affected and only two were operational after workers downed tools on Monday. 

“It is a wildcat strike since no formal notification was sent to Pikitup management notifying it of the impending action,” he said.

He said the depots were affected to varying degrees, with protesters using intimidation and threats to prevent workers from leaving the depot.

He said the entity would engage casual workers until a solution was found and  other strategies such as law enforcement assistance would be employed.

He said rubbish was not collected, but hoped the issue would be addressed and waste collection resumed.

On Friday, Pikitup deployed the Public Order Policing (POP) unit to remove protesters who were obstructing  depots, ensuring employees could resume waste collection services for City of Johannesburg residents. 

Protesters including expanded public works programme (EPWP) employees, whose contracts were expiring, and community members blocked entrances to the Norwood, Selby, Marlboro, Randburg, Diepsloot, Midrand and Roodepoort depots. They were all demanding permanent employment with the waste management company.

Sowetan on Monday spoke to residents of the city, who shared their dissatisfaction about the state of the city. 

“It is quite disappointing and embarrassing that the city of Joburg is in this state, it is dirty we have to walk through this rubbish,” said one resident. 

Spokesperson of the Democratic Municipal and Allied Workers Unions of South Africa , Meshack Ntshauba, said that they want Pikitup to absorb about 300 casual workers. 

“We want these workers to be absorbed by Pikitup, not employed through these contractors who were recently appointed because the tender awarding was not done according to the book. 

“We suspect that all the companies that have been awarded tenders for the casual workers at Pikitup do not meet certain criteria. We will, on Wednesday, file an urgent application to demand full disclosure on these companies so that we can be sure due diligence was followed,” he said. 

SA Municipal Workers Union regional secretary, Thobani Nkosi, said that due diligence was done.

“The allegations are baseless, and these contractors were appointed by the book, we were there as observers and we can assure you that proper procedures were followed."

Mkhwanazi said POP units were instructed to arrest and remove lawbreakers to allow Pikitup staff to do their work.

“Additionally, private security personnel and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department [JMPD] will escort employees as they provide services to residents. 

“It is important to clarify that the current protest action is not a strike by Pikitup's employees but by casual workers. This means  members of the South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu), the recognised unions within the organisation, are not on strike,” he said.

He said Pikitup remained committed to engaging with protesters' representatives to find an amicable solution.

“These efforts are expected to facilitate the reopening of the depots soon,” he said.

The entity  encouraged residents in affected areas to dispose of their waste at Pikitup’s integrated waste management facilities while the matter was being resolved.