EPWP workers protested after not receiving their stipends. Picture: Danie van der Lith
Durban - Refuse removal has been interrupted again, in the Pinetown area this time.

This follows numerous disruptions in the Durban CBD by Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) beneficiaries at the weekend.

On Wednesday, more EPWP beneficiaries contracted to the city’s Durban Solid Waste (DSW) overturned garbage bins in Pinetown.

Mandla Nsele, eThekwini communications deputy head, confirmed that another strike had started in Pinetown and surrounding areas where refuse was not collected.

Some of the affected areas were Kloof, Cato Ridge, Hammarsdale and others.

The contractors, who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation, said they wanted equal treatment and permanent employment like those who joined the programme after them.

“We get constant intimidation from management that if we don’t return to work we will be dismissed. There will be these disruptions until the issue is resolved,” said a spokesperson for the employees.

On Monday, Raymond Rampersad, head of DSW, said there was no money or budget to absorb all the EPWP contractors.

In May last year, the Daily News reported that eThekwini Municipality employees were found to have been double-dipping in government funds meant for the unemployed.

According to an audit report tabled at the city’s Executive Committee (Exco) meeting, but was deferred to another meeting, permanent municipal employees benefited from the EPWP, which is meant to help unemployed people.

According to the report, EPWP beneficiaries also appeared as full-time paid employees of eThekwini Municipality.

The review found duplicate payments to an EPWP beneficiary, and the beneficiary had worked on more than one project simultaneously.

During this period, the transgressions have cost the programme just over R2.5million.

This report has never made it to another Exco after it was deferred.

Mandla Nsele said EPWP beneficiaries were clear that they were hired on contract but wanted to force the hand of the municipality into absorbing them on to the municipal payroll.

“EPWP workers contracted to the outer west of the city embarked on strike action on Wednesday, disrupting waste collection services to a number of areas. However, the issue has been resolved and workers returned to their duties on Thursday. DSW staff are working around the clock to address waste collection backlogs in all affected parts of the city,” Nsele said.

An Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) representative who is not allowed to speak to the media, said the issues at hand had not been resolved.

“The complaints we get from the workers show the level of corruption at the municipality. As for the audit report, I have not seen it so it would be difficult to comment.

“This strike action is not over, employees will make sure that they are heard. It was through intimidation that the workers returned to work on Wednesday,” the representative said.

Daily News