Dead babies, jumping rats upset strikers

2011-08-15 19:53

Cape Town - Rats jumping in their faces, dead babies in bins and infections that spread through their fingers are some of the horrors municipal workers face every day, a rubbish collector said in Cape Town on Monday.

"You open a bin to collect the rubbish and a rat jumps in your face," said Sidney Mazana, 47.

"There are big rats and they stink. Rats carry many diseases."

Mazana was one of several hundred municipal workers who protested outside the City of Cape Town offices on Monday morning demanding higher wages.

The crowd around him muttered their agreement as he told of the horrors of working as a rubbish collector in Cape Town.

"My hands were infected last year," another worker said, lifting his hands to demonstrate.

"You get sick all the time in this job. You people in the suburbs feel it if we don't come, so now the municipality must pay us."

Mazana said the worst day of his working life was when he found a dead baby in a bin in the suburb of Mouille Point.


"I went to the police that day and took them to the baby. Many people, you can ask them here, find dead babies in the bins."

SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) official Mario Jacobs, who stood on the back of a bakkie in front of a wall of barbed wire, urged the protesters to call for Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.

"Patricia de Zille, she must come and receive our memorandum herself”, Jacobs said, alluding to the close partnership between De Lille and Western Cape premier Helen Zille.

"Patricia de Lille earns R1.4 million a year, a Samwu worker makes R4 300 a month. That is disgusting."

City of Cape Town deputy mayor Ian Nielson told the protesters that the city appreciated the contribution they made to communities in the city.

"We understand you want higher wages," he said, "and we accept your right to have a strike in a legal way. I will take your memorandum to the mayor and we will give a considered response to it."

As Nielson left the bakkie where he had received the memo, the crowd chanted "voertsek six percent, voertsek".

A few members of the crowd then pelted the police who were dressed in riot gear, throwing onions and sticks at them.

Jacobs told the crowd to return to the same place on Tuesday to continue with the protest for Samwu's demand for an 18% increase.

  • GH - 2011-08-15 20:06

    Do your job and there won't be so many rats! Let's see, when did the rat infestation start? Oh yeah, around the time of the last municipal strike.

      RealSouthAfrican - 2011-08-15 21:34

      Partricia de Lille is the mayor of Cape Town, not a municipal worker. The post boy in the office mustn't complain when he doesnt earn as much as the CEO. Know your role and shut your mouth.

  • John Paul - 2011-08-15 20:06

    If you dont want R4300 per month, go back to Transkey.

      arjenf - 2011-08-15 20:45

      I can't see how earning R4 300 is sufficient for a decent living. If people work hard, and provide a necessary service, they deserve to obtain an expectable standard of living.

      fraidycat - 2011-08-15 20:45

      If you are promised heaven, then R4300 will not buy it in a month. They complain everything is going up except their is this brainless attitude of asking for double the interest rate as wage increase. We all pay for it in some form - and then the unions say they fight for these people - BS

      Francois - 2011-08-15 20:58

      @Arjenf - I think R4300 is a lot better than nothing. It is not a highly skilled job, even rats can do it and I bet the rats also spell "acceptable" better than you do. The higher we pay for unskilled work, the higher inflation goes, the less people can be accommodated in the labour force. Thus what do you exactly want 25% unemployed with high inflation or 15% employed (excluding the rats) with low inflation - your pick, genius.

      Neil - 2011-08-15 21:44

      @arjenf: "If people work hard, " There is the 1st problem, they do not know how to work hard. No, it's much more fun striking and making a nuisance of yourself. - 2011-08-16 08:16

      i know our dustbin guys dont deserve it coz we missed it by two minutes. they were just moving on the the house next door and we ran out and they REFUSED to take it. then the following week there was one little milk box that had fallen out the black bag due to comeone scrummaging through our rubbish and then the municipal guys picked up the bag and then REFUSED once again to pick up anything left behind that wasnt in the bag. Well im sorry, if you do half a job - dont expect to earn a CEO's salary. Maybe you should have thought about this before putting the X next to your ANC party's name when voting. vote for sh*t - you'll get sh*t

      Dayat Atime - 2011-08-16 09:58

      @arjenf You are forgetting to factor in, zero rent, most likely no electricity costs, and possible subsidies for various things

  • John Paul - 2011-08-15 20:15

    I just looked up the exchange rate. You get US$600 per month. More than any other rubbish man in Africa. More that the rubbish man in India and China together. And Cosatu and the ANC ( Abortion Murder Genocide ) want to follow the example of China and India. They get less than half of what you get. Go for less, follow your leader!

      fraidycat - 2011-08-15 20:51

      Nearly fell off my chair reading that they want to be like India and China...whahahahahaaaa...In India, extremely highly educated people work for slave wages, but they work hard and are promoted quickly and so build their own wealth eventually. The problem locally is, everybody wants everything NOW - no working hard for a possible better future - just demanding it now, whether it will mean some of them loosing their jobs due to companies having to close down due to HR costs...

  • susan.ettmayr - 2011-08-15 20:23

    That many dead babies! This I seriously don't believe. Rats jumping out at you. Start recycling bins as they do in Europe. You municipal workers can make a huge difference if you try.

      fraidycat - 2011-08-15 20:52

      But that would mean WORKING and using initiative, impossible.

  • Bart Zimzon - 2011-08-15 20:33

    The rats are not allowed anymore in the bins! They must go back to the gutters and sewage pipes. And the rats are too big these days. No, for big fat rats. Before 94 the rats where much smaller AND thinner and lived in their dedicated sewage pipe.

      Peter - 2011-08-16 07:24


      Dayat Atime - 2011-08-16 10:00

      Imperialist rats!!! Rise up my people and take back our bins without compensation >.>

  • Amani - 2011-08-15 20:36

    de Lille runs an organisation, you pick up TRASH. You don't go home with paperwork and get called in the middle of the night to handle a crisis. You didn't spend years in University and do not steer the nation in any direction; you pick up TRASH. R4300 may not be enough but rather compare yourself to a dumpster truck driver before you do to de Lille or Zille

      fraidycat - 2011-08-15 20:56

      Ever heard of comparing apples to apples...Life is not fair, as not all of us can be either Malema or De Lille or Zuma - but we must take responsibility for what we are and make the most of a bad situation. Then again, if you do not like your job/career then get another, why make yourself sick over this???

  • SeanJ - 2011-08-15 20:46

    The average factory worker in China receives nett, per month: - salary $100, - paid accomodation $20, - paid food $20, - paid cigarettes $3, - does not pay transportation costs to the workplace. For the cash received, he/she can buy appx 300kg of rice per month or 200kg of banana. If the average worker in the West has a salary, per month: - receive nett $2000, - less to pay accomodation appx $500, - less to pay food $500, - less to pay the transport costs to the work place $100, - less to pay TV, phone, utilities $200. Nett in hands appx $700 and for that money he/she can buy appx 400kg of rice or appx 250kg of banana. And these guys earn about $600 a month.

  • Lightdancer - 2011-08-15 20:50

    Slow down folks...imagine You earning R4600 a month...imagine you finding 'one' dead baby in a dustbin or in the street in front of your home... I am not saying anything other, but, imagine yourself being exposed to these conditions... I've been to India...not a fancy holiday...I come from Europe...and yes, municipal workers are paid fair me...they are exposed to things 'you' don't want to experience...and truth be told..."would you work for this amount of money...would you??? Strange how we react when strikes are under way...strange that few of us are prepared to jump in when help is needed... Yes, I did personally...I volunteered last year when the hospital went on strike...did you, all the critical complainers and judges...sorry, I am not saying all is well, but, hey a little compassion goes a long way... okay, I am just a girl of 50+...a foreigner married to a South African who am I to speak...but, maybe...just maybe...slow down and look at the situation a little more race issue...just plain as it is...try it...we may be surprised what suffices... and please spare me racial or educational comments...I am just a girl looking with eyes open wide...

      fraidycat - 2011-08-15 21:07

      OK, accepted, but the problem lies in the fact that they demand 18% increase - my manager would happily show me the door if I am unreasonable like this. And lets take the exaggeration out of this - they do not find a baby in every bin...but hey it sounds gross so you get your sympathy with the bleeding hearts. The government will have to start looking at a way of curtailing the effect the unions and their outragous demands have on our economy.

      Danie - 2011-08-15 21:28

      Agreed that it is not a lot but then again someone needs to do it. Not everyone can become or be a doctor or lawyer. I also understand that the guys I went to school with that became plumbers and mechanics are often earning more than I do. But where does it stop? If I'm lucky I'll get a 5% increase. My 5% may equate to around the same Rand value of someone at that pay level getting a 18% increase. Where will the money come from? Will everything become 20% more expensive over night, putting everyone back where they were before? If compassion plays that big a role my friend, a receptionist, should get bumped from R4000 to R5800 too. But is the value she adds to the company worth that much? Can she not be replaced by someone more willing and eager for less?

      stephandt - 2011-08-15 22:28

      Lightdancer! How about you slow down and think for a minute! Mkay! Job: Binman, salary = R4600pm. Job: IT Specialist (Qualifications and college education), salary = R9000pm! Mmm! That is half of what a professional gets paid! Sounds about right to me! Oh! And would somebody please think about the children! Hah! Go do your tree hugging back in Europe!

      phillip.havenga - 2011-08-16 07:56

      Lightdancer in the current economic climate if the only job I could get paid R4000p/m I would take it and do it because jobs are scarce. Secondly I work in a high stress high responsibility position and I don't get much more than these binmen so you know what I don't think their salaries are that unfair considering it's highly unskilled labour.

      Gibbonater - 2011-08-16 08:56

      Teach them proper birth control and not sit around with 4,5,6, or 7 kids. If you dont like your job, leave.

      Dayat Atime - 2011-08-16 10:12

      Maybe I'm not collecting trash, but I DO work for this salary range! I also have to deal with other people's sh1t and smile doing it. Sure I don't find a dead baby in my workplace but I encounter enough upsetting scenarios such as: no increase (0%) for the second year now, no bonus, currently under the third threat of retrenchment in 4 years. So your 'measly' 6% increase would be a damn blessing for me. Just because I simply cannot afford to drink alcohol every day or braai once a week doesn't mean I am being treated unfairly because others can.

  • Naafi - 2011-08-15 20:59

    The most disgusting rubbish seems to be coming from Mazana's mouth. If the refuse in the bins in the suburbs is so rotten and sickly how come do the vagrants treat it as an "all you can eat" buffet if you should leave your bin out too early. As far as I have seen the workers don't even come into contact with the contents of the plastic bins that are tipped automatically into the back of a truck. I know of many people who have put themselves through university that earn less than R4300 a month

      fraidycat - 2011-08-15 21:12

      Exactly @Naafi. I watch this comedy every week, first come the vagrants emptying the bins of whatever they want, then the rubbish removal guys who hardly touch the bin before it is tipped into the truck. So it should be the vagrants who should complain about the amount of dead babies in the bins they "raid"...These people want more pay than teachers or nurses. Outragous demands!

  • Joan - 2011-08-15 21:08

    So they tipped out the bins on the streets today to make it easier for the rats?

      fraidycat - 2011-08-15 21:14

      Work creation efforts???

  • Gavin - 2011-08-15 21:09

    If they want more pay they should also pay tax.We pay taxes so that we can have these services.

      fraidycat - 2011-08-15 21:17

      Guess what @Gavin we will be paying much more sooner rather than later, so that they can get theri 18% - the rest of us, who are a bit more reasonable, would be happy to get 6-8%. But noooooo, we want everything now, don't worry about tomorow - the evil west will look after us like they do the rest of Africa...

  • Digger - 2011-08-15 21:28

    Ok let’s face it, they do have a point….that’s not a lot of money these days, but. If you want more than I guess you must go back to school and educate yourself to a higher degree. Most people that earn over a million Rand a year, have spend that on their education alone…so yes they get higher incomes. Once again it’s down to accepting your cut in life.

      dotty_01 - 2011-08-16 07:18

      they have no point, simply because they do not seem to have the cognitive ability to see the BIG picture. there are 1 million tax payers in this country - and this is not growing. this base has to fund 15 million social grants, corrupt politicians and grow the economy - JUST LIKE THAT. they fail to realise that most countries around the globe are facing wage CUTS, reduced working hours -- yet they continue to live in their apartheid induced bubble which they refuse to step out of - they spend their lives reminding themselves that the whites owe them, that they must suck out every last drop to receive compensation for their evils of the past. oh well. in the not so distant future, these people will be starving and begging the west to send in a somalian style food drop. and i will sit back in my first world country and say "told you so".

  • Alyson - 2011-08-15 21:54

    I really don't think that R4300.00 per month for a uneducated person is a bad wage. Having said that if they would want to study then I do believe the education dept could do weekend courses, for a fee, for those that want to participate, and in that way they could progress to better jobs. Nothing in life comes easy,or free, most of us in this country work our butts off to provide and never strike.

      OBwun - 2011-08-16 09:04

      Yeah, but then they would most probably burn down the classrooms at some stage....

  • Yankee - 2011-08-15 22:23

    That RATS A STAR (hehehe). Next time he jumps at you,listen to him. He is trying to tell you that no matter how many days you strike,it will not decide the increase you may get. He also says that 85% of SAMWU workers are not on strike.

  • stephandt - 2011-08-15 22:38

    They are complaining about earning R4600pm! Go have a look what is the starting salary for a police officer, R5000pm! This is a bleeding joke! Welcome to the New South Africa.

  • dotty_01 - 2011-08-16 07:07

    yes, you stupid people: continue to TAKE, TAKE and TAKE. And then follow on with more and more DEMANDS. this country is full of CONSUMERS who fail to realise that in the past 17 years, over a million PRODUCTIVE people have left. And from what I can see, this number just keeps on growing. i am convinced that my children have more ability to think ahead. how does anyone remain optimistic?

  • Jeannette - 2011-08-16 07:17

    Why were they throwing onions? They're expensive

  • Peter - 2011-08-16 07:26


  • rushi.nortje - 2011-08-16 07:49

    I agree with GH. If you would just do your jobs there won't be rats in dumpsters, call the police if you find something that you think looks like there is a dead baby in or if it is a dead baby and wear gloves - you know, the things that are made to protect your hands in the first place ;/ This is your job, if you don't like it, find something else to do. I'm sure there are thousends of less fortunate people in this country who would love to have your job!!! - (spelling, sorry)

  • Moo2sa - 2011-08-16 08:25

    usually when you apply for a job you given a salary to agree on, so its not like they didn't know how much their time "cleaning the streets" was worth! just do your dam work and stop complaining, maybe they should take their jobs away and give them to people who would appreciate earning something.

  • Gibbonater - 2011-08-16 08:53

    Keep the clean place and there wont be any rats you dumbass. Also practice 20th century birth control, not prehistory birth control by killing your unwanted children. And if you dont like your job, leave and go back to the Transkai where there is thousands of acres of free land for you to farm and not bother the ratepayers with you unrealistic demads and dispicable backward behaviour.

  • nic - 2011-08-16 09:05

    I've seen the rats in CPT. There was one we use to call George. It would have eaten a cat. It is scary

  • Janine - 2011-08-16 09:11

    At the risk of getting yelled at - I don't think that R4300 per month for unskilled labour is that bad. Plenty of people with qualifications don't earn much more.

  • capetonian - 2011-08-16 09:12

    You don't like your job? Resign and apply for another job - what did you say - no other jobs? Oh, that's why we have 25% unemployment and hundreds of unemployed black males sitting on pavements waiting for the rare opportunity of some work! In my neighbourhood I have counted 50+ on Rosmead Avenue, Wynberg Cape Town... But just carry on and vandalise the streets in your "protest" action - but DON'T expect any sympathy! Accept the offer on the table and GET ON WITH YOUR LIFE. I cannot believe the attitude of the Trade Union movement in this country! It is long time overdue that employers just said you can stay away for as long as you like - that's your prerogative....we'll see how long your families will put up with that! COSATU box way above their weight. Perhaps their head honcho can tell us what business he has run successfully...?? NO? that's the problem!!

  • Papsak - 2011-08-16 09:32

    Aphi amagundane?

  • Megan - 2011-08-16 09:45

    If the working conditions are so horrific then why not strike for better working conditions? Why not use this time to demand that money is spent on gearing every one with proper personal protective equipment? Do these workers get medical aid? If not, then maybe that should also be looked at so that in the circumstances where they are infected as a result of their work then they are at least able to recieve above standard medical treatment. More money in YOUR pocket does not necessarily mean that all the problems are going to go away.

  • Primrose - 2011-08-16 12:07

    Hayi suka they are being ridiculous..R4300. I live in the township and see these ppl walk around, time to chat and some you will see on a Monday at a tarven drinking away Monday blues..If they get an full increase I will also go and apply at a municipal office instad of being couped up in an office.

  • kazlynn - 2011-08-16 12:20

    I agreed, the amount of rubish collected should be related to the amount of pay you get. that would make them work for what they get and the reats will disapear before you know it. thats how we get paid in corp bus. do it all the way round, just to make it equal. whats fare for one is fare for all.

  • memory.maguire - 2011-08-16 12:51

    why do municipal workers not get issued with safety gloves?

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