Refuse collection workers down tools

LABOUR DISPUTE: Municipal workers protest outside the Harrower Road depot
LABOUR DISPUTE: Municipal workers protest outside the Harrower Road depot

Waste collection services in Nelson Mandela Bay ground to a halt yesterday when municipal workers downed tools over alleged unfair labour practices.

They said that a manager was thwarting their efforts to rake in overtime claims.

The striking refuse collection workers blocked off parts of Port Elizabeth’s Harrower Road with waste disposal trucks yesterday morning, causing havoc as traffic had to be diverted to other roads.

The workers claimed a manager was only allowing certain workers to work and claim overtime, while the rest were overlooked.

Black bags remained uncollected in parts of Port Elizabeth for most of yesterday, but Uitenhage was unaffected.

The group of disgruntled drivers blocked the Harrower and Stockelbach roads intersection, and police and traffic officers had to be called to control the situation. About 50 workers loitered about for hours while waiting for one of the managers to come and address them.

They eventually held a meeting with their bosses.

Topping their list of gripes, the workers singled out depot manager, Anelisa Dyakala, claiming she had a draconian leadership style which they said made it unbearable for them to do their jobs.

One of the striking truck drivers, Nkosikhona Mazele, said: “She has totally changed the agreement we had last year with the superintendent, which allowed us drivers to have a weekly roster that rotates between drivers. She is depriving us of the opportunity to share work hours and pay, hence we say we don’t want her to be in charge of us here.”

The workers said they had on numerous occasions tried to bring their grievances to the attention of the council and relevant authorities since 2013 but they had been ignored.

Municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki said the matter was resolved by late afternoon following a meeting between the workers and senior management.

“They were complaining about issues of overtime and acting managers. Most of the issues were misunderstandings between the parties.

“They have agreed to improve communication going forward,” Mniki said.

– Rochelle de Kock

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