Johannesburg - All 4 000 Pikitup workers have been found guilty of defying two court interdicts declaring their strike unprotected and ordering them back to work.
So said City of Joburg member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for infrastructure services Matshidiso Mfikoe at an urgent council meeting held on Wednesday to debate the strike, now in its fifth week.
She said she was awaiting the report from the presiding officer to see what sanctions would be imposed on the workers.
On Wednesday the opposition parties in the council called for an external investigation into the allegations against Pikitup managing director Amanda Nair. They also called for her suspension during the investigation, saying the city should then, within 48 hours, restart negotiations with the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu).
Councillor Anthony Still said Mfikoe, Nair and Pikitup board chairwoman Trish Hanekom were all compromised and could not be part of the investigation.
“Amanda Nair must go. It is clearly not in her DNA to be able to engage constructively with employees. She regards Pikitup as her fiefdom instead of being a servant to the residents of this city. The problems she created are not fixable,” said Still.
The way Pikitup operated should also be changed. “It is a monopoly. Parts of the service should be outsourced to private contractors so we do not face this situation again. Prior to 2011, two-thirds of the city was being cleaned privately,” he said.
DA chief whip Vasco da Gama said the party had called the meeting because councillors needed to know everything about the strike so they could inform their communities.
Geoff Makhubo, the MMC for finance, said residents would not be refunded for services not rendered. “In terms of the by-laws, residents cannot withhold payment with no exemptions even if refuse is not collected,” he said.
Mayor Parks Tau appealed to all councillors to work together during this time of crisis. “The needs of residents supersede political affiliations,” he said.
He was grateful that communities and businesses were helping with the clean-up and the security of trucks on the roads.
Speaking on the suspension of Nair, Tau said she, as an employee, had her rights as well in terms of the labour law.
“Due process has to be followed for all employees. Yes, there are allegations against her and these are being investigated. If there is found to be merit in them, we will suspend her. But we can't suspend every manager with an allegation against them. When we get the report back, we will see if there is a basis for suspension,” he said.
Tau agreed there should be an alternative model for refuse collection, but not an outsourcing one. “That is not the way we are thinking. We are rather thinking in terms of more recycling, having separate bins for different waste, looking at environmental and climate change conditions, and we have mandated the MMC and the Pikitup board to look into this,” he said.