Contract cleaners: We’ve had enough
Yadhana Jadoo and Nosihle Shelembe, Sapa
Johannesburg - Contract cleaners are being taken advantage of, and want better wages so they can lead better lives, they said at a gathering in Johannesburg on Friday.
Violet Ramoruma, who is on strike with thousands of her colleagues, supported three people on a monthly salary of R1 500. She had to rely on loans to make ends meet.
"My salary is not enough to pay rent, buy groceries, furniture, pay for taxi fare and to educate my children. Government does not care about us. I have been working for 15 years without benefits."
An employee at Prestige Cleaning Services insisted the company had enough money to raise salaries.
"The money is there. It's not like there isn't any money being made. I have seen their contracts. Some invoices come to about R250 000 each," he said.
Sells cigarettes and vetkoek on the side
He said they worked long hours with hazardous chemicals, but sometimes could not take a loaf of bread home.
"I'm tired of this. We will go home with better wages."
Simon Kaposa said his low salary meant he had to sell cigarettes and vetkoek on the side.
Hundreds of workers who gathered at Beyers Naude Square displayed their company uniforms on sticks.
SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) officials told them a meeting with employers would be held on Monday.
A planned march to Prestige Cleaning Services in Johannesburg was called off because the city's metro police did not grant a permit for it to take place.
The march would instead take place on August 18.
Women dominating strike
Workers wanted a basic salary of R4 200 a month, and a 10% increase for those earning above R4 200. In addition they wanted a yearly 13th cheque, an eight-hour working day, and for members in rural areas to be paid the same as their urban colleagues.
Satawu went on strike on Monday with colleagues from the National Security and Unqualified Workers' Union, the SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers' Union, the National Union of Hotel Restaurant Catering, Commercial Health and Allied Workers, the SA Cleaners, Security and Allied Workers' Union, and the Democratic Union of Security Workers.
Satawu is leading negotiations on their behalf. The unions represent about 75 000 workers in the sector.
The strike is dominated by women.
The Hotel, Liquor, Catering Commercial and Allied Workers' Union of SA and the Professional Transport and Allied Workers' Union of SA went on strike last Monday.
Black Economic Empowerment Cleaning Association chairperson Trevor Ackerman said on Thursday unions would have to address their demands to Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant.
"We have offered 8%, plus a 13th cheque or bonus. The unions have to send a motivation to the minister, who ultimately has the final say," he said.
Satawu provincial secretary Chris Nkosi accused Oliphant of not respecting women.
"The women of this country will lead us. With the absence of women, man is nothing."