Workers at City of Joburg’s waste removal agency Pikitup, who embarked on an unprotected strike, face disciplinary action, mayor Parks Tau said on Tuesday.
“The workers were charged individually in relation to their conduct, and not as union members. The presiding officer will then make recommendations to the city after completion of the process, we cannot pre-empt the outcome of the process,” Tau said.
He said the disciplinary proceedings would begin Tuesday. It has been four weeks since Pikitup workers downed tools and now they face various charges of misconduct and taking part in an illegal strike.
Tau said SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) shop stewards, who are employees of Pikitup, had also been charged and would appear before the hearings.
“They are charged with gross misconduct in that on February 4 they individually, collectively, orchestrated, incited and procured other Pikitup employees, who are members of the union, to participate in the unprotected strike,” said the mayor.
“The Labour Court declared the strike unprotected in that it did not comply with provisions of the Labour Relations Act,” he said.
The striking employees, mainly Samwu, members, have ignored two court interdicts ordering them to return to work. They have also ignored three notices of dismissal for failing to return to work.
The unprotected strike is the fourth since November 2015 in a series of clashes between management and employees over issues related to salary increments and demands for the dismissal of Pikitup Managing director, Amanda Nair, whom they accuse of corruption.
Last year Nair was cleared by the High Court of any wrongdoing related to the same matter. About 4000 workers downed tools when promised increments did not reflect on their February salaries, and subsequent negotiations have collapsed.
Member of the Mayoral Committee for Environment and Infrastructure Services Matshediso Mfikoe said workers had issued new allegations against Nair.
“The matter will be dealt with by the city, as we know, Pikitup does not do investigations. We do not see any reason why Nair should not be at work … we do not see the need for her to stay away as we have confidence in the team that will deal with the issues raised by the union,” Mfikoe said.
The strike has resulted in a pile up of uncollected garbage bags at street corners, prompting the city to hire private service providers to assist in cleaning up the city.
City manager Trevor Fowler’s on Saturday plea for help from security services and residents to volunteer to protect Pikitup and help clear waste was, however, met with violence and intimidation in areas such as Alexandra and Diepsloot.