UPDATE: No picket by waste pickers, yet

An informal recycler goes about his business in Randburg.


Waste pickers or informal recyclers across the City of Johannesburg will reportedly not strike today, but applications have been made for them to do so soon.

READ: Waste pickers plan to strike 

Vanessa Pillay, representation programme officer of Women in Informal Employment: Globalising and Organising (Wiego), said an application has been made for a picket on 10 July.

Wiego is a global network which works with reclaimers in Johannesburg to support their organising efforts. It also works with the South African Waste Pickers’ Association.

The City, on 5 July, released a statement from Nico de Jager, MMC for Environment and Infrastructure services, who said he was informed that the recyclers from Randburg, Northcliff and Roodepoort planned to march to Braamfontein.

“In their correspondence, they indicated that the protest action is [about] the lack of consultation by Pikitup, and the appointment by Pikitup of service providers to carry out the separation-at-source of recyclable waste in the aforementioned areas,” said De Jager.

Pillay confirmed that the recyclers were unhappy about the introduction of these service providers, claiming that it is not a territorial issue, but a livelihood issue.

“Some of these people have been collecting waste for decades,” said Pillay.

She argued that there was no proper consultation with recyclers before the City made this change. She also said recylcers were rather informed of the decision that was already made and their input was not considered.

De Jager said Pikitup managing director, Lungile Dhlamini assured that the entity did consult with the informal recyclers and their various representatives.

“Consultative meetings were held in September and October last year, culminating into a two-day workshop which was held in May,” said De Jager.

He said that during the consultative process, the need for waste pickers to organise themselves into a representative forum was emphasised, as it is impossible to consult with every waste picker in the City. Pillay disagreed that the recyclers are without representation since ‘Wiego offers administrative support of their mandate’.

Pillay said if the City wants to work with informal recyclers it has to be on the basis of openness, transparency and respect and that they need to be recognised as form of organised representation.


One man’s trash is another man’s treasure 

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Chantelle Fourie

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