Johannesburg - As the wildcat strike by hundreds of Pikitup workers enters its second week, the City of Johannesburg has appointed a service provider to clear the refuse collection backlog and normalise the service delivery programme.
The Johannesburg CBD was virtually turned into a ìwaste-landî last week, with mounds of uncollected garbage strewn all over the streets after members of the South African Municipal Workersí Union (SAMWU) downed tools in protest against what they called nepotism and pay disparities.
The announcement of the appointment of the service provider was made by Environment and Infrastructure Services MMC Matshidiso Mfikoe at a media conference at Pikitupís Selby depot on Sunday. MMC Mfikoe said although SAMWU was not supportive of this contingency plan and did not make a commitment to return to work, the City and Pikitup had an obligation to restore normal services to communities.
MMC Mfikoe, flanked by Pikitup Managing Director Amanda Nair, Chairperson of the Pikitup board Dr Trish Hanekom, Pikitup Chief Financial Officer Suren Maharaj and Chairperson of Pikitup Social Ethics and Human Resources Committee Setshego Bogatsu, apologised on behalf of the City and Pikitup for the disruption of waste management services and the severe inconvenience the strike, which was in defiance of a court order, had caused.
The MMC condemned the vandalism taking place in the city. ìThere can be no justification under any circumstances for trashing the city,î she said.
The strike followed a request by SAMWU on November 19 to meet Pikitup management, including Nair, the following day. ìThis was not possible due to prior engagements and a commitment to schedule an extraordinary meeting on November 26 was made, notwithstanding that the proper place to raise these issues would have been in the monthly local labour forum. Our Constitution and the Labour Relations Act uphold the right of workers to protest and to withdraw their labour. Strike action, however, should always be a last resort and the decision of SAMWU to embark on an unprotected work stoppage is condemned in the strongest terms. Disciplinary processes and legal action will be taken against those responsible in the intimidation, violence and damage to property that ensued,î she said.
MMC Mfikoe announced that the Pikitup board and management met SAMWUís leadership on Saturday. There was agreement at the meeting that the ongoing action was not in the interest of residents, the workers and the company.
Nair said a massive clean-up of the inner city by the Red Ants started on Sunday and would cover the inner city, Joubert Park, Hillbrow, Braamfontein, Fordsburg and Yeoville. To deal with the backlog in informal settlements, additional refuse bags will be issued.
Residents are encouraged to place their refuse at central locations in their areas to ease collection. A process to confirm these central locations with the collaboration of ward councillors is in hand,î she said.
She urged residents to take out their bins in accordance with the normal refuse collection schedule. Nair said additional vehicles, plant equipment and manpower would be made available to augment capacity at each depot.