Former Pikitup workers protested to be reinstated outside the Pikitup Selby Depot. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - There was an exchange of bullets and stones in running battles between protesters and the police at Pikitup’s Selby depot in Joburg on Tuesday.

The ongoing violent demonstrations saw operations being halted for the second day as former employees disrupted the waste-management service and demanded their jobs back. Women protesters stripped naked and accused the company of engaging in a jobs-for-pals scheme.

Former Pikitup employee Sangwani Chisimba worked as a contractor between 2010 and 2011 and claimed that company refused to retain them in their jobs because of the jobs for-pals scheme.

“Now the company is hiring people from outside our province. We saw people from other provinces being employed here. When they cut our jobs in 2011, our agreement was that they would hire us permanently after five years. But now they are hiring people who are not part of our agreement plan.”

The protesters picketed at the entrance to the depot, singing Struggle songs and demanding answers from Pikitup’s management when police fired rubber bullets and a high-velocity water cannon to disperse them.

“We have proof that we were working as contractors and the managers know us. But they don’t want that proof and now they are demanding ID copies and tax numbers. These protesters are from various part of Joburg and they are not employed. They only want their jobs. They are not here to fight anyone,” said Chisimba.

But Pikitup spokesperson Muzi Mkhwanazi said the allegations were not true.

“Pikitup views such allegations in a serious light and calls upon those with evidence of this to bring it to its attention. The current process, as per the mayoral directive, seeks to in- source 2010 employees who worked for contractors, and those who meet set criteria and similar conditions must apply to former [email protected] employers,” said Mkhwanazi.

Agnes Majoro said they would continue protesting until they received answers and return to work. “I received an SMS on July 25 to come back to work, but later I was told that the documents in my name were not mine. I want to know who did they give my position to because I even raised the matter with managemen but they never responded. Instead, I was told to leave the office, because they had already hired people.”

Pikitup earlier warned Joburg residents about waste-collection disruptions, after receiving an e-mail from former employees slamming the hiring of 2800 workers from outside Gauteng.

The Star