‘These kinds of things attract rats’

The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), representing striking Pikitup workers, may face legal action, a City of Johannesburg spokesperson said today.

“The health of the city is at risk, we can’t allow that to happen,” City spokesperson Gabu Tugwana said.

He said the city earlier approached the Labour Court, and all necessary documentation had been filed. “We hope the court gets back to us as soon as today or tomorrow,” he said.

The city gave workers until this morning to get back to work as it felt that it had addressed workers’ demands during talks at the weekend.

Tugwana said the SA Local Government Bargaining Council had granted permission to strike based on four demands, which had been addressed in the talks.

Additional services had been hired to help reduce the accumulating piles of rubbish, “even though the city did not have money to throw around,” Tugwana said.

“One week [of strikes] is one week too long. These kinds of things attract rats and so forth.”

Additional services were working in phases around the city and there was some kind of progress in the Roodepoort area, he said.

Garden and landfill sites had extended their operating hours.

Striking workers were demanding, among other things, an internal investigation into alleged corruption and irregular tenders at the company.

Refuse collection workers embarked on a strike last Thursday.

Samwu spokesperson Tahir Sema said the union was informed of the city’s legal intention, but said they had no legal grounds to stand on.

Sema said workers were not back at work as they still had to be presented with the proposals from the city, and would have to indicate if they accepted or rejected them.

“This takes a few days, [the process] works via a mandate. There’s nothing much we can do.”

He said the city did not understand that the union needed to explain the proposals to its members in various languages.

“This process takes time. We are not in breach of anything, we did indicate that we are happy,” Sema said.

Workers would be addressed in Joubert Park later today.

“Should they agree on the city’s proposal, they will be back at work tomorrow [Wednesday].”

The following landfill sites would accept domestic refuse free of charge:

» Goudkoppies, Houthammer Road, Devland,
» Marie Louise, Dobsonville Road, Roodepoort,
» Robinson Deep, Turffontein Road, Turffontein,
» Ennerdale, Old Lawley Road, Lawley.

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