Johannesburg – The strike at Johannesburg waste management company Pikitup continues despite the city’s attempts to reach a settlement with the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA) on Friday afternoon.

Hundreds of workers affiliated to Samwu protested again late on Friday afternoon outside Samwu House in the Johannesburg CBD, tossing garbage onto the streets and breaking concrete rubbish bins as news of the deadlock reached them. Johannesburg metro police officers were on the scene.

When approached for comment, the workers became aggressive and did not welcome the media. But those standing away from the aggressive group said they heard that negotiations were postponed to Saturday. Samwu regional deputy secretary Paul Tlhabang did not answer his phone on Friday.

Pikitup spokesperson Jacky Mashapu said the company was not commenting any more, as the matter was in the hands of mediators and the city.

Mayoral committee member for the environment and infrastructure services Matshidi Mfikoe could not be reached for comment, nor could her spokesperson, as they were both locked in meetings at the CCMA.

At least 4000 Pikitup workers affiliated to Samwu embarked on an unprotected strike on March 9, demanding wage hikes from R6000 to R10 000 a month, and that managing director Amanda Nair step down.

The strike entered its 30th day on Friday. This is the fourth and the longest strike by Pikitup workers since November 2015, over the same reasons, though Nair has since been cleared by the courts on charges of corruption.

On Wednesday, the city said it hoped to reach a settlement with the striking workers by the end of the week, if all parties agreed on current negotiations.

The strike has caused growing concerns over the health and environmental impact caused by uncollected refuse.

Since the strike began, Pikitup has been paying R1 million a day to hire private contractors to remove refuse and for security escorts to prevent attacks on contractors’ workers.

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