3-week-long Joburg Pikitup strike: 'It looks, smells awful'

2016-03-29 17:20
(Wim Pretorius, News24)

(Wim Pretorius, News24)

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Johannesburg - While about 4 000 striking workers, mostly from the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), are facing a disciplinary hearing this week following an unprotected strike, many residents are fuming and taking their trash to refuse areas themselves.

Hossam Soror, a Randburg resident, drove with his garbage bags to the Randburg Garden Site to dispose of them.

GALLERY: Pikitup strike causes a stink

According to Soror he had no choice but to take the rubbish bags away himself as Pikitup had failed to do so in the past three weeks.

"I have no choice. The piles are getting bigger and if I leave it outside the amount of trash is blocking my driveway," he said. "It also looks and smells awful."

A security guard at one of the sites, who chose to remain anonymous, said he was worried about the amount of trash that kept piling up, fearing it might cause diseases.

"People have been bringing the trash with their own vehicles. It’s not fair. They are all tax payers and shouldn’t have to do it themselves."

Wearing a mask to cover his face, he said the smell was unbearable and believed it might be hazardous for areas close to the site.

Nineteen Pikitup workers have been arrested in connection with acts of intimidation and even violence while illegally striking, Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau said on Tuesday.

According to Tau, 11 of those that were arrested were released because of a lack of evidence, while the remaining workers appeared in court and were granted bail of R500 each.

"They face charges of public violence and attempted murder," Tau said.

Tau said that the work stoppage of Pikitup could not be tolerated, adding that the streets of Johannesburg had become a dumping site.

Accusations of corruption

The workers are demanding salary increases of between R6 000 and R10 000 a month, and that Pickitup managing director Amanda Nair be fired.

The workers are accusing her of corruption.

The City of Johannesburg, on Twitter, told residents to still leave their garbage bins outside or to personally take them to garden sites or landfill sites, while metro police have also been spotted at some of the garden areas.

The decision to have metro police officers protect auxiliary refuse collectors while the protracted Pikitup strike drags on followed a call made by the DA last week.

The City of Johannesburg on Monday said that employees were welcome to return to work on Tuesday should they want to.

While the strike has been ongoing, some people are seeing it as an opportunity to help other residents by driving their garbage to refusal areas for a few rands.

Tau said that he was grateful to those citizens who had helped and contributed to cleaning up garbage during the strike.

On Saturday, a temporary Pikitup worker was stabbed while collecting rubbish in Alexandra, after a group that is believed to be striking Pikitup workers, attacked the temporary workers and damaged a truck.

The truck suffered damage estimated at R15 000. 

According to the City of Johannesburg’s Twitter page, nine of its trucks were attacked while collecting refuse in the township over the weekend.

Read more on:    pikitup  |  johannesburg  |  strikes

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