The striking workers have been protesting in Johannesburg city center, emptying rubbish bins and leaving heaps of waste across the city streets. Photo: Matthews Baloyi

Johannesburg – The Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) on Monday confirmed that its officers had started escorting Pikitup trucks and temporary workers in a bid to prevent attacks on them amid the ongoing strike by the waste management company’s workers.

Temporary workers and Pikitup volunteers were attacked in Alexandra, north of Johannesburg, on Saturday night as the violent strike continued.

This follows the shooting of two Pikitup trucks along Rand Show Road, near Nasrec, on Wednesday which caused the vehicles to collide just before midnight. Fortunately no one was injured.

JMPD chief superintendent, Wayne Minnaar, on Monday said the City of Joburg last week approached JMPD to escort Pikitup trucks.

“It is a City of Joburg’s decision, supported by the Labor Relations Act. JMPD must intervene if the strike goes on for more than 14 days until the situation is normalised,” Minnaar said.

Section 71 of the Labour Relations Act identifies collection of refuse left uncollected for 14 days or longer, whether domestic, or on public roads and open spaces, as an essential service.

Both Pikitup spokesperson Jacky Mashapu and Samwu’s regional deputy secretary Paul Tlhabang were not available for comment on Monday.

The Star newspaper reported on Monday that the City of Joburg’s manager, Trevor Fowler, had instructed the chief of JMPD to provide the necessary protection services to escort and protect the appointed waste collection service providers.

The newspaper indicated that collecting the rubbish which had been piling up on Joburg’s streets for nearly four weeks during the strike had now been deemed an essential service and that the Pikitup strike was now high on the priority list of Johannesburg’s Mayor, Parks Tau, and municipal officials.

Minaar said JMPD had started to escort Pikitup temporary staff and volunteers at the weekend, but they were not present when trucks were attacked in Alexandra.

About 4 000 Pikitup workers affiliated to the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) embarked on an illegal strike and downed tools earlier this month as salary negotiations collapsed and their demands for the dismissal of their boss, Amanda Nair, were ignored.

The striking workers have been protesting in Johannesburg city centre, emptying rubbish bins and leaving heaps of waste across the city streets.

Samwu wants salary increases of up to R10 000 a month and it wants corruption charges against Nair re-instated. The charges against her were thrown out of court last year.

Last week, Pikitup called on volunteers in the security sector to help it curb the attacks on its members who were working during the strike.

African News Agency (ANA)