Pretoria - Traffic was brought to a standstill in Pretoria central on Monday, when a crowd of South African Municipal Workers (Samwu) responsible for waste removal and collection marched across the capital city, accusing the City of Tshwane of exposing them of unsafe working conditions and diseases.
The workers, led by Samwu Tshwane regional secretary Mpho Tladinyane, were escorted by police officers as they marched from Marabastad, west of the CBD, to the heavily guarded Tshwane House along Madiba Street.
“Occupational health and safety dictates that the employer provides necessary protective clothing for all its employees. Currently, most workers in waste depots throughout the city are without PPE [personal protective equipment], and the city seems not to care in providing such,” Tladinyane presented the workers grievances to Tshwane city manager Moeketsi Mosola.
“Workers are expected to collect waste without being provided with necessary gloves. Our members risk being exposed to serious diseases. Workers in various dumping sites are also attacked by vagrants on a daily basis, and the employer is not properly responding to such a situation.”
The protesting workers also complained that there were inadequate trucks being provided by Tshwane’s fleet management service provider Moipone Group of Companies. The relationship between Tshwane and the Moipone Group has already gone sour and spilled into the High Court in Pretoria.
“The city entered into a contract with Moipone to supply and maintain fleet for all departments including waste management. The challenge workers have is that the number [of trucks] provided is less than the available workers. At any given time, there are close to 200 workers doing nothing due to unavailability of the trucks. Further to that, all trucks that require service and maintenance are always parked at the depot, unattended,” said Tladinyane.
“We view this as a ploy by [Tshwane] officials to delay the fixing of such trucks so that they can procure some private companies to provide service. We have also noted that there are new trucks at the bus garage which are only awaiting registration, and it takes forever to do that.”
The workers also demanded fulltime jobs from the municipality.
Mosola, who was representing Executive Mayor of Tshwane Solly Msimanga, said the city’s top officials will be urgently meeting the aggrieved this week.
“I will be coming with the mayor, by 7am on Thursday, and we will be dealing with these issues. I want to thank you for the way you have been disciplined, even though you are unhappy. We have heard you, and your memorandum is received. One by one, we are resolving these issues, which have been outstanding for way too long,” said Mosola.
African News Agency/ANA