‘Vat Alles’ protest in Centurion
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Pretoria - Municipal staff and ANC Tshwane regional executive committee (REC) members were stranded inside the mayoral offices in Centurion on Monday after striking workers of the cleaning project, “Vat Alles”, locked the gates.
Police had to escort some of them out of the building, while others contacted the Pretoria News to report that they had been “arrested” inside the offices.
Earlier in the day while the staffers went about their daily duties and the ANC leaders were meeting, hundreds of disgruntled workers from the initiative – part of the national expanded public works programme – arrived by bus and took their stand-off with the city to new heights.
They gathered outside and blocked the entry points of the building, angry about their long-standing labour dispute with the mayor and ANC regional leader Kgosientso Ramokgopa, and his administration.
The mayor took to social media platforms posting photographs of a successful engagement with another group of “Vat Alles” workers in Mamelodi.
But back in his office, the disgruntled workers had blocked both gates while singing and chanting anti-Ramokgopa slogans, claiming they had not been paid.
The workers demanded that they be permanently employed by the city, among other grievances.
“Vat Alles” worker, Emmanuel Maselane, said their grievances were valid and they no longer recognised what the City of Tshwane had to say about the matter as it was becoming devoid of any relevance.
“We want Sputla (Ramokgopa) to step down. He can’t take this city forward. We were hired by the REC because we are members of the ANC and not part of the municipality. The REC, which is meeting here right now, needs to come out and address the issues that we have,” said Maselane.
What angered them the most, he said, was that they were not being taken seriously.
“They use us for taking part in door-to-door campaigns before elections, which is not stipulated in our contracts. We will join other political parties, because they know what is happening, if this situation is not addressed,” he added.
However, ANC Tshwane regional spokesman Teboho Joala denied these claims and said the issues raised by the employees needed to be handled by the municipality as this was not an ANC issue.
“Employment cannot be handled by a political party. This is a matter that needs to be addressed by the municipality. As far as the allegations of campaigning, everyone who engaged in campaigns does so on a voluntary basis,” Joala said. The ANC would look into the complaints and revert back to the disgruntled employees, he said.
Two weeks ago, four bakkies and a water tanker were burnt to ashes in Soshanguve by the rampaging workers who have been at loggerheads with the city for more than a month now.
The workers also threw stones, smashing the windows of two other bakkies, while also stoning a municipal building. They vowed not to back down until their grievances were heard.