EFF calls for service payment boycott in sympathy with Pikitup workers
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Tuesday urged Johannesburg residents to withhold payment for municipal services in sympathy with striking Pikitup workers.
The party’s “Joburg Region notes the four week PickItUp (sic) strike with disgust equal to the filth it has produced”.
“We are convinced the city can afford salaries of R6000 a month as demanded by the workers‚ considering that R1-million a day (R28-million so far) is paid to facilitate the corrupt ‘contingency plan’‚” said regional secretary Silumko Khethokuhle Mabona.
That “contingency plan” – which included law enforcement agencies being deployed to protect stand-in garbage collectors and a 24-hour hotline for residents – was announced earlier on Tuesday at a press conference by mayor Parks Tau.
“In our view this strike is being dragged deliberately to serve as a boomerang funding mechanism for the cash-strapped ANC in Johannesburg‚” said Mabona.
“EFF Johannesburg furthermore calls upon residents of Joburg to rally behind the workers’ demands‚ whom most earn less than R4000 a month.
“Residents of Joburg should exercise their power by not paying for services not rendered‚ because if we pay we would be indirectly funding this ANC corruption.”
Mabona added that “the workers represent the most critical‚ dedicated‚ competent but underpaid section in the City of Johannesburg‚ and are therefore deserving of each of their demands”.
Tau had earlier said that the rubbish left around the city by the illegal strike had made waste collection an “essential service” and the “anarchy” the industrial action had caused could no longer be tolerated.
But‚ he also cautioned residents of the city – frustrated by weeks of uncollected garbage - not to take the law into their own hands.
His comments were made at a media briefing on the same day disciplinary hearings started against workers who have “ignored two court interdicts and ultimatums” to return to work.
Tau said it was unfortunate that disciplinary action had to be taken‚ especially as the city was committed to negotiations with union officials‚ but stressed that the vandalism and intimidation of recent weeks could not be allowed to continue.
Law enforcement agencies would be escorting stand-in trash collectors‚ the mayor said‚ adding that strikers arrested over the weekend would face charges including malicious damage to property‚ assault and attempted murder.
He said that contingency plans put in place ahead of the Easter weekend would continue this week. These include a 24-hour hotline for residents to call about uncollected waste in their area.
Pikitup said on Monday that its three days of disciplinary hearings would also see “charges levelled at those who have provoked the illegal strike and individuals who have been responsible for intimidation”.
A Pikitup statement said it “welcomes the city’s call to the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) to resume engagement with Pikitup to ensure that the terms set out in the politically facilitated agreement are carried out”.
It added that member of the mayoral committee Matshidiso Mfikoe had “reiterated that the city is also committed to ensuring that all employees are treated fairly and compensated accordingly”‚ but added that “this can only happen in a normal environment wherein workers are back at work so as to afford the mandated parties the opportunity to reach an amicable agreement”.
Pikitup said it would “welcome employees should they want to return to work on Tuesday”.
It noted that “management and contingency teams have been hard at work clearing backlogs around the city”.
“The affected areas are being reviewed and monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure cleanliness is restored to optimum levels‚” the statement said.
“Community members are increasingly heeding the call and over the Easter season‚ various community-led clean-up initiatives have been taken place throughout the city’s regions.”
The hashtag #pikitup was trending in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning‚ with Charles Ngcobo @Nactizel666’s comment suggesting that he was in an area that hadn’t yet been attended to: “Jst saw a big ass rat...having a holiday in a trashcan‚ thank u #pikitup”.