Palm Ridge rubbish strike standoff continues

Waste workers from a contractor to the Ekurhuleni council that have gone on strike over working conditions in Palm Ridge, 29 June 2020. Picture: Neil McCartney

The strike by waste management employees is the second during the Covid-19 crisis. In March, employees defied government’s lockdown regulations of social distancing by downing tools until their salaries were paid

A waste worker strike that has left an unbearable stench hanging over Palm Ridge will hopefully be resolved today.

A meting scheduled for this morning is aimed at ending a protracted standoff between the employees, residents of the suburb east of Johannesburg and a company contracted by the City of Ekurhuleni to collect garbage.

According to Peter Maredi, spokesperson for the striking workers and the local community, the group will table a list of grievances to the development contractor Nokeng Gondo Waste Management at the meeting to be attended by local councillors.

These include:

  • Failure by Nokeng Gondo to pay workers wage increases in the past two years.
  • No training provided in line with provisions of a tender document signed with the City of Ekurhuleni.
  • No provision of portable site ablution facilities and lack of compliance with Covid-19 health and safety regulations.
  • A demand by Palm Ridge community for the appointment of its own community-based contractor (CBC).
  • An establishment of a site office.

Palm Ridge, Thokoza and Eden Park are among areas serviced by the waste collection employees in Ekurhuleni.

Nokeng Gondo Management director Collin Tshivase, who said workers were provided with personal protective equipment (PPE), was confident the meeting would resolve the impasse.

“We are meeting to know their demands, which they should direct to the CBC.

“Should the workers require anything, they should be doing so through the CBC, which is contracted by us – whether they need
PPE or portable ablution facilities or whatever.

“In this area, we have been dealing with matters beyond being compliant with health and safety regulations. We have had instances of our trucks being hijacked and keys taken in return for money going to individuals.

“That is criminal – not done by the community, but by a few individuals,” said Tshivase.

The strike by waste management employees is the second during the Covid-19 crisis. In March, employees defied government’s lockdown regulations of social distancing by downing tools until their salaries were paid, with Tshivase saying there were “delays in payments by the City of Ekurhuleni”.

The City maintained the plight of the workers was a matter between them and Nokeng Gondo.

– brians@citizen.co.za

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