Refuse removal grinds to a halt in eThekwini as workers protest cut in overtime
Durban - REFUSE removal services ground to a halt across the city yesterday morning when hundreds of eThekwini Municipality’s Durban Sold Waste employees downed tools and marched to a local depot demanding to work longer hours to earn higher overtime pay at the weekends.
A convoy of rubbish removal trucks drove slowly along the N2, holding up early morning traffic as they made their way to the municipality’s Springfield Park depot in Electron Road where they demanded to see DSW deputy manager Qaphile Gcwensa.
Several workers, who declined to be named because they were participating in an illegal strike, said they were protesting against the municipality’s decision to cut their weekend overtime hours. One worker said the city had advised them on November 6 of the reduced overtime hours.
Workers complained that their hours had been cut from eight to five on Saturday and Sunday and that this resulted in a “loss” of more than R1 000 a week in overtime pay.
The workers, some waving large sticks and dancing, gathered outside the office under the watchful eye of SAPS officers and metro police armed with riot gear.
Municipal refuse truck drivers said refuse had not been collected across the city according to schedule yesterday morning.
SA Municipal Workers Union Regional Secretary Xolani Dube declined to confirm the workers’ grievances regarding overtime pay, saying he did not want to dwell on the “nitty gritty”.
However, he said workers were concerned that there had been no collective bargaining when decisions had been taken.
“There is no proper consultation between the employer and the employee and the decisions that were taken by the employer are detrimental to workers, but those decisions are not properly consulted.
“We decided we should have constant engagement with the employer to find lasting peace on the issue, and management has made a commitment to ensure that there is engagement,” he said. Dube added that the union was in the process of scheduling a meeting with the city today, but that workers had already returned to work and begun refuse removal services yesterday afternoon.
“Things are back to normal. “We are a very responsible and disciplined trade union and are very cautious and conscious of the impact stoppages have on ratepayers, so we will act in the interests of members, and we are also equally citizens of the city.
“We have a commitment to service delivery,” Dube said.
Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the protest action was an “illegal strike by DSW workers” and that city management had prioritised the resolution of the matter.
He said refuse collection and street-sweeping services, which had also been affected by the strike, had resumed yesterday afternoon.
“Residents are requested to take out their refuse bags on their normal collection days.
“We would like to thank all residents for their patience during this time,” he said.
Ward councillors across the city said suburbs had been affected by the strike action, but confirmed that services had resumed later in the day.