Rubbish strike over trucks

2008-08-11 00:00

Employees of the Msunduzi Municipality waste management division downed tools yesterday and refused to collect refuse around the city, demanding a meeting with management to discuss issues related to the privatisation of municipal trucks.

Members of the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) and Independent Municipal Allied Trade Union (Imatu), among other staff, told The Witness they want the municipality to revert to using their own trucks instead of leased ones.

They said the municipality seems to be heading towards privatisation by refusing to repair municipal-owned trucks and opting to use hired trucks. The Witness understands that management hired the trucks after some of its fleet was due for repairs. The hired trucks were supposed to be used for three months, but that has since been extended.

Staff members said the municipality plans to lease the trucks for five years.

The staff believe that this is a bid to enrich certain individuals. Although they were reassured that they would not lose their jobs, they fear they eventually will.

An employee who wished to remain anonymous said the council is spending a lot on leasing the trucks. He said rubbish trucks cost around R1 million each, but the council is leasing each of the seven trucks at R300 an hour.

“Repairs to one of the trucks were nearly completed, but the municipality was short of about R100 000 and chose to hire another truck,” he said.

Imatu shop steward Nhlanhla Dlamini said that if the workers are not going to lose their jobs, the municipality should reassure them by repairing the old trucks so they know that no jobs are threatened.

“Workers feel insecure about their jobs as the municipality refuses to repair old trucks or to buy new ones. Even the standard of service delivery has deteriorated since this lease system was introduced,” said Dlamini.

Municipal manager Rob Haswell confirmed that staff at waste management division refused to do their rounds.

He said that after having heard their complaints and consulting the relevant managers, he tasked the fleet manager to ensure that as many municipal vehicles as possible are available to reduce the need for hired trucks.

“The situation will be assessed again at the end of this month. As a result of this impasse, waste removal only commenced in the afternoon. The inconvenience caused to customers is regretted,” said Haswell.

The Witness was unable to confirm what the municipality is paying to hire the trucks.

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