Workers from the Expanded Public Works Programme marched to the city hall yesterday demanding that they be permanently employed by the eThekwini municipality. Nqobile Mbonambi African News Agency (ANA)
DURBAN - More than 300 workers from the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) marched to city hall yesterday demanding to be employed permanently by the eThekwini municipality.

The workers, from the Safer Cities, Social Sector, and Durban Solid Waste (DSW) departments, marched from King Dinuzulu Park to the city hall to hand over a memorandum of demands.

They alleged that they were paid just over R3000 per month since 2008 and were on contracts that were renewed every three months.

The workers demanded that the EPWP staff who started work in 2014/15 should be absorbed and permanently employed by DSW, Water and Sanitation, Security Services, Metro Police, Parks, City Fleet, Fire and Emergencies and other departments.

In their memorandum, the workers also said those under EPWP should be given first preference for any posts advertised by the city. They called for ward councillors not to interfere with EPWP workers.

Workers also demanded that the EPWP programme be considered an entry point to permanent job placement at the municipality, and that new EPWP workers be granted 12-month contracts.

Yesterday, the workers became very angry when they were told that mayor Zandile Gumede would not be able to address them and accept their memorandum.

Last year, the workers formed the EPWP task team, which will negotiate with the city on their behalf.

Task team convenor, Sibusiso Mkhize, said there were more than 5000 non-permanent workers, and that they were determined to fight to get what they wanted.

“We are sick and tired of all these temporary contracts that we are being given by the municipality.

“There are workers here who have been working for more than nine years, but they still don’t have permanent positions,” said Mkhize.

Mkhize alleged that EPWP workers had been threatened by ward councillors. He said some workers were afraid of participating in marches or meetings as they feared they would be fired.

“The majority of workers did not come here in this march because they were called by the ward councillors to come to a meeting today (yesterday).

“Since January, no workers have been called to any meeting, but since they heard that there is a march, they are now calling the workers to the meeting on the same day,” he said.

Addressing the crowd, task team member Skhumbuzo Buthelezi said they were giving the municipality’s management seven days to respond to their memorandum.

“If they don’t respond to us within this period, we are going to come back and cause havoc around the city.

“Today was just a peaceful march, but if nothing is done, that will mean war,” said Buthelezi.

He added that all workers under the programme should be made permanent regardless of their qualifications.

“There are people with degrees, diplomas, certificates, matrics and those who have nothing among us.

“Under Parks and Gardens, Water and Sanitation and other departments in Durban, you can work with your Grade 2, so they have no excuse but to make us permanent,” he said.

Durban EPWP senior manager Bongani Hlophe, who is based at the office of the mayor, accepted and signed the memorandum.

Hlophe told the workers that the mayor fully supported their struggle.

“The mayor promised that she will be addressing the issues in the memorandum.

“We had a meeting with the leadership of the workers and made some progress.

“We will be working with the task team to address the issues,” he said.