Johannesburg - Bring out your bins, or maybe don’t if you prefer not to have its contents strewn across the street.
Angry Pikitup employees once again embarked on an unprotected strike on Wednesday, this time over salary grievances. Many are also still calling for the removal of Pikitup managing director Amanda Nair. This is the fourth unprotected strike that Pikitup employees have embarked on since December.
On Wednesday, they moved through the streets under the banner of the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) as they made their way from various Pikitup depots across Joburg central to Samwu House in the Joburg CBD.
On their way to Samwu House, the protesters trashed the streets, strewing garbage and refuse all over the roads.
They also blocked several streets across the city and Braamfontein, including Louis Botha Avenue, Civic Boulevard, Juta Street and parts of Rissik Street.
From Samwu House the protesters moved towards the Metropolitan Centre, where the Joburg mayor’s office is situated.
They set a small fire in the outer square, sang Struggle songs and danced while brandishing sticks.
One protester, who identified himself as Thando, said workers had been promised a salary increase in December but this had not happened.
“We deserve better wages, it’s not fair, they mustn’t lie to us! We want our money and we will use our rights to fight for it,” he said.
Another protester, Esther, said she earns only R5 000 a month and can no longer support her family.
“Amanda knows what we are fighting for. I want to earn the R9 000 that was promised to me. Amanda is killing us, she wants us to suffer,” she said.
Samwu shop stewards at the mayor's office told the crowd they were going into a meeting with municipal officials and Pikitup to discuss grievances. Then rain began to fall, causing the protesters to take cover under the building’s eaves as they waited for news, with some of them leaving.
Nair acknowledged that employees were calling for higher wages ranging between R9 000 and R10 000. She added that Pikitup management were in talks with Samwu officials.
“All parties need to ensure that they stick to agreements and follow the rules in order to resolve this matter,” she said.
In a statement, Pikitup, together with the City of Joburg, condemned the action taken by Samwu.
“The unlawful action is against the spirit of the ongoing engagement with Samwu and the concessions made by the City of Joburg and Pikitup to accommodate Samwu’s demands.
“Every effort is being made to speedily address this illegal work stoppage,” the statement said, adding that contingency plans had been put in place.
“We appeal to residents and business owners to continue to leave their bins and excess waste outside as contingency plans are in place to collect the refuse.”
Joburg metro police department spokesman Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said they were monitoring the situation closely, together with the SAPS.
In November, the Pikitup board held a meeting with Samwu representatives, and according to Pikitup, the two parties agreed to bring issues to the table before embarking on strike action.
Last month, however, a court interdict was put in place in a bid to stop illegal work stoppages following months of on-and-off strike action over various work-related issues by Pikitup employees.
It’s still unclear when the strike action will be fully resolved.