Durban - There was a tense situation outside the Durban city hall, the administrative capital of the eThekwini metro when over 250 angry unpaid waste collectors from uMlazi tried to storm the venue demanding that the municipality intervenes in order to resolve their plight.
The workers have not been paid for two months and the issue of their non-payment resulted in the non-collection of waste in the township of Umlazi, eThekwini’s biggest township with over one million residents.
The tense situation was averted when city officials requested to meet with four leaders of the angry group. By 11:45 am on Thursday, the representatives were still locked in a meeting with city officials, among them, according to the workers, was city manager, Sipho Nzuza.
Speaking on behalf of the workers, Sifiso Dlamini from the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) eThekwini region, said the protest included workers from Cato Manor, just outside Durban. He said their three grievances were getting their outstanding payment, employment of the waste collectors by Durban Solid Waste (DSW), a division of eThekwini municipality and reinstatement of suspended eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede.
"That is true and that is one of their grievances as well. They are saying if they can be absorbed by the municipality, they can avoid all these particular exploitations they have been facing for quite a long time," Dlamini said on the demand to be directly employed by the municipality.
Dlamini vowed that they would not yield on these demands until they are met. He then said they want suspended eThekwini mayor to be brought as it was puzzling to suspend a person on mere allegations.
"The principle of being presumed innocent until proven guilty by the court of law must apply. There is no law that says if a person has been charged and been arrested she or he must not be at work. As Sanco we don't understand this particular notion of saying there is a leave of absence. It is based on what? Sanco at eThekwini has resolved to be behind the mayor all the way and that she must come back as well," he said.
According to some workers, they are owed between R7 000 and R23 000. The money includes leave pay for over two years and overtime worked.