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LOOK: #DurbanStinks as rubbish continues to mount

Daily News logo Daily News 2019-05-07 CHRIS NDALISO
a crowded parking lot: Bags of domestic refuse are piling up on the pavements outside the Chatsworth Garden and Refuse Collection Site in Sagittarius Street. Bongani Mbatha African News Agency (ANA) © Provided by Daily News Bags of domestic refuse are piling up on the pavements outside the Chatsworth Garden and Refuse Collection Site in Sagittarius Street. Bongani Mbatha African News Agency (ANA) Durban - WHILE sporadic water services appeared to be restored to some areas affected by the April 23 storm and subsequent collapse of the Mobeni reservoir, Durban residents are having to contend with growing mountains of rubbish as city garbage collectors down tools.

The city has been paralysed since municipal employees embarked on protests against perceived special treatment for Umkhonto weSizwe veterans who received R11 000-a-month salary increases.

Yesterday the eThekwini Municipality issued a statement calling on residents to cart their rubbish to their nearest dumps, as waste collection workers joined the protest.

However, without workers at the dumps, heaps of rubbish were piling up outside these facilities.

City manager Sipho Nzuza said the city had sourced private contractors to “move swiftly” to assist in restoring the provision of basic services.

“We have already started with refuse removal in the city centre today (yesterday). Two private contractors and 100 volunteers have been brought on board to ensure all refuse in and around the city centre is cleared within 24 hours. We are also prioritising refuse that is life-threatening. We have also hired contractors to assist us in our endeavour to provide water 24/7,” he said.

Nzuza urged all employees to resume duties immediately while the dispute was being deliberated on at the central bargaining council, and warned that the principle of no work, no pay applied to all workers participating in the strike.

The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) accused the administration of arrogance for hiring private contractors for refuse removal and water delivery.

“We are negotiating with them to correct the wrong they have done and they don’t see that. They are bringing in people to do the job of protesting workers. We are warning the city management not to point fingers at us if anything happens to those people. Why gamble with people’s safety? It is common that in situations like this, anything is possible,” Samwu provincial secretary Jaycee Ncanana said yesterday.

It was not clear yesterday how many areas were still without water and refuse removal services.

However, ward 64 councillor Gavin Hegter said he was aware of Isipingo being without water since the collapse of the Mobeni reservoir over the weekend.

Ncanana dismissed the “no work, no pay” talk, saying it was “procedurally flawed”.

“That’s not how you handle labour issues. It’s unfortunate that he (Nzuza) would tell the media without informing his counterparts (unions) first. The correct procedures have not been followed on this issue, too,” he said.

Late yesterday afternoon the unions and city were still at a bargaining council meeting while city employees were sitting at depots and Samwu offices.

Samwu regional secretary Sbu Sibiya said there would be a full-blown protected strike, which could bring the city to its knees, if the matter was not resolved at the bargaining council.

“The employer is to blame for the unfortunate predicament the parties concerned find themselves in. It is unfortunate that the engagement is taking so long while members are eagerly waiting for the employer to come up with a counter offer on the demand to have grades 3 to grade 9 elevated to grade 10 - a grade that the so-called war veterans were elevated to from grade 4.”

Chatsworth resident Yugen Moodley said bringing in private contractors to clean the city and provide water was not a solution to the problem.

“We haven’t had refuse removal since the strike, yet we pay between R60 and R70 per month for the service. We just hope we won’t be footing the bill for these private contractors,” he said.

Hegter said: “We have been taking our refuse to the landfill site since the strike. The workers’ grievances are justified, but the manner in which they are handled cannot be condoned.”

IFP caucus leader Mdu Nkosi echoed Ncanana’s concern for the contractors. “This is a direct provocation to those on strike. This is very dangerous; you can’t solve a problem by creating another problem. There was no budget for this, so where does this money come from?”

The DA said thousands of people were without water over the weekend. In many cases, valves were turned off by striking workers or repair teams were intimidated from conducting repairs to faults, caucus leader Nicole Graham said.

“It is clear eThekwini is unable to take back control themselves.”

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