Jozi stink to end? As most Pikitup striking workers report for duty

ALMOST  all depot-based Pikitup workers reported for duty  this morning, a day after the City of Johannesburg (COJ) announced the end of the five-week strike by members of the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), the waste management company said in a statement.

“Approximately 95 percent of Pikitup depot-based workers reported to their respective depots this morning. They have commenced with their normal scheduled waste management services which include refuse collection, street sweeping and litter picking as from today,” Pikitup said late on Monday.

The strike at Pikitup, the COJ waste mangement company, hhad caused growing concerns over the health and environmental impact of accumulating refuse, particularly in low income, high density areas.

Pikitup spokesperson, Jacky Mashapu, said the COJ had committed itself to clearing the refuse collection backlog by April 30.

“The workers will also continue to clear illegally dumped waste in open spaces and street corners. We anticipate that the recovery plan will take over three weeks to complete since, in most instances, the normal operations may be slowed due to excess waste which has accumulated for five weeks,” Mashapu said.

During the strike, Pikitup had been paying R1 million a day to private contractors to remove refuse and for security escorts to prevent attacks on contractors’ workers.

Pikitup said it would continue to use third-party contractors for about a month to complement its employees so as to speed up the cleaning of the city.

Among other measures taken to clear the waste collection backlog, the COJ would set up a joint operations centre, continue with community mobilisation and encourage focus on recycling and the separation of waste.

Meanwhile, negotiations between Pikitup, the COJ and Samwu to reach a settlement for pay parity were began at CCMA on Monday.

Cosatu’s provincial secretary, Dumisani Dakile, said on Sunday said the negotiations on salary benchmarking would be based on the principle of a salary scale, a common grading system, and salary progression based on tenure and job performance.

Salary increments agreed to would be backdated to January.

At least 4 000 Pikitup workers affiliated to Samwu embarked on an unprotected strike on March 9, demanding wage hikes from R6000 to R10 000 a month. They were also demanding the removal of managing director Amanda Nair, whom they accuse of graft.

Nair has previously been cleared of any wrongdoing by the high court.

The City said a private firm was investigating 18 fresh allegations levelled against Nair by Samwu.

Pikitup agreed to make a once-off payment of R750 to all Grade A and B workers in anticipation of salary adjustments in order to achieve equal pay for equal work, for equal tenure.

All 4 000 workers were found guilty of misconduct during a disciplinary hearing. But Pikitup said their returning to work would work in mitigation of disciplinary action to be taken against them. – ANA