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Trash piles up around Durban as city workers embark on go-slow

Published Mar 11, 2020


Durban - With the putrid smell of rotting waste in the air, some streets in the Durban CBD and suburbs resembled dump sites this week as overflowing wheelie bins and rubbish bags stood on pavements, having been uncollected for days.

Protesting against the eThekwini Municipality’s implementation of overtime pay changes, Durban Solid Waste (DSW) employees have been on a go-slow since last week.

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Parts of Glenwood, Greyville, Musgrave, Bellair, Seaview and various streets in the CBD were left stinking while the municipality and workers’ representatives discussed how to go about the restructuring.

DSW head Raymond Rampersad said individual employees were “taking the city for a ride”.

He said the SA Municipal Workers’ Union and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) were still in consultation with the municipality on Monday afternoon.

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He said the city leadership had decided to restructure overtime pay because of the large amounts it had paid.

“For the 2019/20 financial year, the overtime budget for DSW was R104 million. Because of the demands due to the events around the city, the budget was increased to R125m, but we have already spent R132m as of the end of February. The management had to take a decision to arrest the situation as it’s getting out of hand,” Rampersad said.

He said overtime should be worked only when there was a need, and should be within the budget. “It is people who are milking the city dry who have issues with the restructuring. Some of these people claim over 80 hours of overtime, yet the labour law stipulates that overtime must not exceed 40 hours unless there is an agreement between the employer and the employee. For the 2019/20 financial year, overtime expenditure for the entire city is R1.2billion. This has to be controlled.”

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A Greyville resident said living with 24 garbage bins in their complex was unbearable, especially in hot weather.

“Last week we ended up using a private company to remove our garbage at a cost of R1380. The bins are already full and are lined up on the street, waiting for a municipal truck to empty them. We can’t afford to pay rates and pay for our own refuse removal. These bins stink when it’s so hot. They get infested with maggots and that’s what we’re exposed to each time DSW goes on strike or a go-slow,” said the resident.

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said poor leadership was “strangling” service delivery in the city.

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“How many times has this department been going on strike? This overtime is an old issue and people are holding the city to ransom. You have the new virus (Covid-19) and exposing people to such filth is not good,” he said.

DA councillor Sthembiso Ngema said the municipality should be open with the overtime issue.

He said the non-collection of garbage affected the drainage system as the

garbage from the bins overflowed into the stormwater drains.

“Are these people claiming for overtime they have worked, or are they demanding the creation of overtime by force? The city shouldn’t be entertaining this. You can’t have people who compromise services because they are against the employer’s decision to implement some restructuring,” Ngema said.

eThekwini spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the go-slow had affected various areas in and around the municipal district.

“The go-slow is due to internal operational issues. The municipality is working around the clock to resolve the situation and is confident that this matter will be resolved soon. We are currently planning for residents to dispose of waste in specified designated sites. The list of these sites will be communicated in due course. The municipality regrets any inconvenience caused,” Mayisela said.

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda yesterday afternoon convened an urgent meeting with employee representatives, to try to find a solution to the problem.

Daily News

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