Police fire rubber bullets at striking Pikitup workers in Joburg
Lizeka Tandwa, News24
Johannesburg – The unprotected strike by Pikitup waste management company workers turned violent on Tuesday when police fired rubber bullets at the strikers.
Members from the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) embarked on an unprotected strike on Monday.
Police said the strike turned ugly when workers looted the streets of Braamfontein and burnt Pikitup bins as they marched to the Johannesburg mayor's office.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said striking workers tried to break the windows at Mayor Parks Tau's office. Police fired rubber bullets as a result.
"The striking workers have dispersed. The streets of Braamfontein are still covered by the dirt left by [workers]," Dlamini said.
Samwu's Paul Tlhabane said their members were striking because the remuneration policy was inconsistent.
He said they were also demanding that management adhere to their agreements to pay for transport when travelling to a colleague's funeral.
Tlhabane said the salary structures at the company was a "thumb suck".
He said they went to Pikitup's management on Friday with the workers' grievances, but were instead met with insults because they "couldn't care less". Tlhabane said they were called "hooligans".
"We went in wanting to engage with management... Instead of addressing us, they write a threatening letter. This is angering the workers and workers will continue with the strike despite any threats by management," he said.
Pikitup spokesperson Jacky Mashapu said the company would institute the principle of no work no pay and would also lock out employees participating in the unprotected strike. According to Mashapu, it was unclear why the workers were on strike.
Mashapu said they encouraged residents and businesses to keep their bins inside their properties until an alternative arrangement was made. "We are working tirelessly to ensure that services are restored as soon as possible. Management remains open to address the concerns of employees and organised labour, but for that to happen, workers must first go back to work," said Mashapu, adding that they must make use of the "established process for engagement".
Mashapu apologised for the inconvenience, saying regular updates would be provided.