Jozi trash heap mounts

30 November 2015 - 02:13 By Sipho Masombuka

The strike by Johannesburg waste collection workers has cost the city more than R8.75-million - and the 30000t of waste that has piled up is a serious health hazard. The cost of the unprotected strike by Pikitup workers, which enters its second week today, will rise even faster with the appointment of another refuse removal company to collect the rubbish.The provision of security for the new company's workers will add to the bill.There is no end in sight to the strike. The meeting between Pikitup and SA Municipal Workers' Union leaders at the weekend ended merely with an agreement to meet again today to discuss wage disparities and increases.A massive clean-up operation began in earnest yesterday afternoon with priority being given to Joubert Park, Hillbrow, Braamfontein, Fordsburg and Yeoville.Matshidiso Mfikoe, member of the mayoral committee for environment and infrastructure services, said yesterday that the Municipal Workers' Union had made no commitment to return to work.He condemned the trashing of Johannesburg' s city centre, saying it was tantamount to a house guest "emptying the rubbish bins in the bedroom"."Disciplinary processes and legal action will be taken against those responsible for the intimidation, violence and damage to property that ensued," she said.Amanda Nair, Pikitup's managing director, said normal refuse collection rounds would resume from today."Additional vehicles, plant, equipment and manpower have been made available to augment capacity at each of our depots," she said.Paul Tlhabang, Samwu's regional secretary, said the appointment of a waste removal company to deal with the backlog was wasteful expenditure.He said the municipality should instead focus on speedily resolving the impasse."These companies do not come cheap. [Pikitup] is prepared to spend a lot of money in a short space of time rather than implement a long-term solution, which is, to resolve the strike by augmenting workers salaries," Tlhabang said.He said Samwu members would not return to work until their demand for R10000 a month was met. He said he was confident that an agreement would be reached by Wednesday.Pikitiup spokesman Jacky Mashapu said the strike cost the company R1.25-million a day, which included legal costs and the costs of securing company property.

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day or Financial Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.