Pikitup workers affiliated to the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) laid bare the challenges between them and their employer in Johannesburg on Wednesday, vowing to continue to intensify their illegal strike that has been continuing for four weeks.
More than 4 000 workers embarked on an illegal strike four weeks ago, on March 2, demanding salary increases of between R6 000 and R10 000 a month, and that the managing director of the Johannesburg waste management entity, Amanda Nair, be removed.
On Tuesday, striking Pikitup workers were in full force in Johannesburg CBD emptying rubbish bins on the streets in front of metro police following their clashes with the police a week ago.
Speaking on SAfm’s Forum at 8 radio show, Samwu said Pikitup was negotiating in bad faith and confusing issues on purpose to frustrate the workers.
Samwu’s regional deputy secretary Paul Tlhabang told the radio station that their members would continue to ignore Pikitup’s notices of dismissal.
“We are dealing here with issues of transformation agenda and employment equity, not bargaining council. What we are saying is that there is an obligation on the employers to comply with Employment Equity Act.
“One of the issues is to progressively address the issue of salary anomalies which Pikitup has failed to do. Instead they are selecting an individual few and adjusting salaries of those who are favourites at the expense of the majority.”
Tlhabang said there were other municipal-owned enterprises that had salary progression, unlike Pikitup, and the issue of R10 000 was just to benchmark the salaries.
Matshidiso Mfikoe, City of Joburg’s member of the mayoral committee on environment and infrastructure, said Samwu had disrupted the meeting that was scheduled to give a proposal to the striking workers.
“We cannot be talking when people are toyi-toying,” she said.
Mfikoe said the city had crunched the numbers and come up with a proposal for salary increases that they could proceed to implement, but they “wanted to present it to the union first”.
But, Mfikoe said, this increase would not be up to R10 000.
“There has not been any commitment by the city that we will pay R10 000. That is just the union demand. We are not responsible for salary negotiations. That is done at South African Local Government Association (Salga) because this is not only salaries for Pikitup but for other entities as well,” Mfikoe said.
She dismissed Samwu’s demand to suspend Nair, saying the City could not sanction anyone without following due process.
“We only received Samwu’s dossier with allegations against Nair yesterday. We sat with the mayor and looked at each allegation. We will announce the way forward in due course as to whether we will appoint an independent investigator for the new allegations,” she said.
Mfikoe said the main issue of conflict was “co-management of the entity [Pikitup] with the union”.
She said last year Pikitup had received a clean audit and made a surplus for the first time since was started 12 years ago.
Pikitup spokesperson Jacky Mashapu agreed with Mfikoe, adding that Samwu was disingenuous as they were also part of the negotiations team at Salga.
“We need to create a positive climate of negotiations and workers need to go back to work while their issues are attended to. We also need to ensure that we provide the best service to residents,” Mashapu said.
A Johannesburg resident who called in to the radio show said they were being “short-changed” and that Pikitup seemed not to have any contingency plan in place.
Another caller suggested that the service be returned to the municipal’s control so that residents could forward complaints directly to the city.
Pikitup has invited the media to accompany workers on a night shift on Wednesday to understand the work that they do.