KZN census workers threaten to withhold forms unless their pay doubles

2011-11-01 00:00

THE main part of Census 2011 ended on a bitter note yesterday when fieldworkers in some parts of KwaZulu-Natal protested for more money.

The uMgungundlovu fieldworkers gathered at Jabu Ndlovu Street and waited for hours to be addressed by senior officials, chanting, “We’re not going anywhere until we get explanation and our money”.

Enumerators demanded R10 000 instead of R5 000 that they signed for in their contracts.

They claim Gauteng staff were being paid more. Workers in Durban were also striking over the same complaint.

However, Statistics SA said all enumerators countrywide are getting R5 000.

Fieldworkers were supposed to do their round-off work, collecting forms from households and last-minute counting.

Most workers continued with their assignments.

A fieldworker supervisor, Mduduzi Mazibuko, said, “We are presenting our grievances as today is the last day we’re working. We’re also planning to withhold the information we collected until this matter is resolved.”

He told The Witness three local municipalities were affected — Msunduzi, Richmond and uMshwathi.

The fieldworkers were out and about on the streets for 21 days.

“How can fieldworkers in Gauteng earn more than we do when we’re doing the same job?” the enumerators asked.

The fieldworkers said the conditions were hard.

Nompulelo Nyoka (31) broke her foot in Napierville when she fell into open storm- water drain and ended up on crutches.

“I almost got shot because someone didn’t want me to count him. I’d get home at 11 pm because other people were only available at 9 pm and still walk in the dark,” said another.

“I worked in a predominantly Indian suburb and most of them weren’t accommodating because they said Julius Malema called them ‘c**lies’,” another added.

Another said she signed a contract in “desperation” after being unemployed for a long time.

“The money is too little,” she told The Witness.

Stats SA deputy director-general for corporate relations, Risenga Maluleke, said they are aware of the stoppages, but “luckily it was not out of hand”.

“All the enumerators in the country will be paid R5 000,” he added. Supervisors will receive R7 000.

Maluleke was also called to address fieldworkers in Pinetown and Durban CBD on the issue of pay.

pparently, the rumour was sparked by a Durban newspaper that later retracted it.

Maluleke assured the census workers that there were “no irregularities or squandering of finances” by officials as many fieldworkers claim.

He pleaded with the enumerators who still have questionnaires to submit them, “no questionnaires, no pay”.

“We trust that the census fieldworkers got into this job as a national responsibility and will not hold us to ransom because of some miscommunication”.

Despite the mishaps, Maluleke said he was proud of the fieldworkers’ hard work and nation’s response.

He said they will continue to engage with the enumerators and try to make them understand.

The Pietermaritzburg enumerators said they will again meet today to discuss this issue.

• gabisile.ngcobo@witness.co.za

If you have not been counted do not fret, the enumerators are on their way.

The Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) has a two week “mop-up exercise” starting today, where fieldworker supervisors and coordinator will follow up on those who have been missed.

Only the fieldworkers’ contract ended yesterday.

However, the supervisor and coordinators will still commence with their work.

Sapa reported that during the 21 days counting spree the census staff reported 10 cases of assault, 15 robbery cases, and seven cases of intimidation.

Stats SA Deputy Director General for Cooperate Relations said all the households that haven’t had a visitor from one of their workers need to call 080 011 0248 or email census2011@statssa.gov.za.

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