Chaos as contract workers protest

Published Apr 16, 2013


Pretoria - Scores of protesting former labour-broker employees caused chaos in Pretoria’s inner city on Monday.

About 200 protesters gathered outside the Tshwane Metro Council’s temporary headquarters, Isivuno House in Lilian Ngoyi (Van der Walt) Street and vowed not to disperse until executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa had addressed them.

Traffic was backed up in several streets and council employees could not leave their offices.

The protesters later trashed streets after dispersing.

They claimed to have been promised that they would be absorbed as permanent workers into municipal structures.

They had been employed by a subcontractor of the metro council but lost their jobs after the municipality did not renew the company’s contract.

Protester Aubrey Hlongwane said he had not worked since his dismissal. He worked in waste management. He said he was dismissed without notice. “I have a family to support. Sometimes my parents have to look after my child.”

The crowd was angry because no senior municipal official addressed it. “We were told the city manager (Jason Ngobeni) is away and Sputla (the mayor) has an attitude towards us,” said Elmond Magedi, a committee member representing the protesters. “We were dismissed when we were supposed to be absorbed,” he said.

Many protesters sang and danced. Some were dressed in municipal overalls. The SAPS and Tshwane metro police kept a heavy presence outside Isivuno House.

The crowd was dispersed twice - during the morning and at 5pm - by police using water cannon.

Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba, spokesman for the metro police, said five protesters were arrested and a case of public violence was opened against them.

The municipality said the protesters had worked as volunteers for the city’s waste management services. “The absorption of volunteers and contract staff permanently was not part of the city’s bargaining agreement with unions,” council spokeswoman Antoinette Mostert said.

Pretoria News

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