Rubbish piles up in Pietermaritzburg as Msunduzi waste management workers ‘fight dirty’ in alleged strike
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DURBAN - PIETERMARITZBURG residents are fuming after an alleged strike by the Msunduzi Municipality waste management workers that has seen rubbish piling up on the city’s streets for the past few days.
Some residents took to social media to complain about the state of the city, with others questioning whether Pietermaritzburg was still the capital city of the province due to its shocking state.
The staff reportedly went on strike over job grading and a lack of uniforms. The Mercury understands this started on Monday.
Councillors said these issues had been simmering for some time.
The South African Municipal Workers union (Samwu) said their members in the waste management unit denied that they were on strike.
But the union said the members had not gone to work because they had grievances they had directed at management which were allegedly ignored.
Samwu leader in the Midlands, Linda Gcabashe, said: “They are complaining about grading – the grade for general workers is too low, the lowest in the municipality, they want to be the same as in other departments. They have not received uniforms since 2019, some have torn uniforms and other workers have to use their own clothes.”
He said the workers at the unit worked hard and yet they were the lowest paid in the municipality.
“They are not on strike, they have stopped working to encourage negotiations with the employers and they cannot be expected to work without the uniform.”
Fed-up Pietermaritzburg residents took to the Save PMB Facebook page to complain about the “strike”.
One user, Thandeka Ndlovu posted: “Are we still the capital city?” She also posted a picture of the rubbish-strewn street close to the Imbali Taxi Rank.
In response to the post, Madoda Xaba said: “Funny enough this morning driving to work I asked myself the very same question and I was thinking about people who are employed to clean our streets and their supervisors. I basically came to a conclusion that these people are being paid for doing nothing in actual case they are stealing from us.”
DA councillor in the Northdale area Rooksana Ahmed expressed frustration about the strike.
“In Msunduzi if you don’t collect rubbish for one day or do repairs for one day, the impact is huge, these are administrative issues that should have been sorted out a long time ago if the municipality was able to plan forward.
“What is happening there is what we have been warning about for the longest time, that the municipality should stop employing politically active individuals under the cadre deployment policy because it now seems that these workers have the upper hand,” she said.
Municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said some of the issues had been addressed and they expected the workers to return to duty today.
“The staff and the unions were addressed by municipal manager Madoda Khathide and they will also be getting some uniforms today,” said Mafumbatha.