Cleaners demand labour's intervention

Pretoria - Striking cleaning workers will march to the department of labour in Pretoria on Friday, to hand over a memorandum demanding intervention in their fight for better wages.

"We expect about 3000 workers to be gathered at Church Square", said SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) spokesperson Mamokgethi Molopyane. Molopyane said there were delays due to City of Tshwane allegedly refusing workers permission to march. "I believe that's all been sorted out," she said.

In the memorandum, workers are asking that all issues concerning wages for cleaners be resolved.

Satawu and seven other unions representing workers want the salaries of workers earning less than R2 400 a month increased to R4 200 a month. Those earning above R4 200 should get a 10% increase.

The unions had rejected a revised offer of 8%, which was linked to "certain conditions".

"It does not provide for a decent increase for non-metro area workers - who are the lowest paid in the industry, with some earning at R700 per month - and the conditions attached were not acceptable to our members," Molopyane said.

Mum on proposal

"This is the women's month (August) and the sector is obviously dominated by women as per the statistics. We want Minister [Mildred] Oliphant to speak on behalf of her fellow women who are abused by capital and greedy small and medium companies under the pretext of BEE."

Cleaning sector employers were meeting with union negotiators on Friday, after requesting three days to discuss a settlement offer proposed by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

The union said it could not divulge details of the proposal.

The meeting, which started on Friday morning, would go on for as long as it took, said Molopyane, adding that the strike was still continuing.

"We hope the employer will come to its senses and give workers what they asked for. There will be no compromise. The demand is humanly justifiable. We hope they will see the light and concede," she said.

Molopyane said workers were not asking for a "millionaire fortune but simple basic living wage".

Stabbing reported


An estimated 10 000 contract cleaning workers affiliated to Satawu and seven other unions embarked on a wage strike in all provinces, except KwaZulu-Natal, on August 1, after talks with the employer failed.

The National Contract Cleaners Association said intimidation of non-strikers continued despite an interdict it obtained. The association claimed that an employee working in Pretoria was stabbed in the face, arms and legs.

"This is was not an isolated incident as other reports of assault are being reported on a daily basis," it said.

The strike was affecting cleaning at old age homes, private hospitals, shopping centres and government institutions.

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