Non-permanent workers of Pikitup who were recently let go, halted services at the waste removal entity due to contractual and employment issues.
On the morning of 10 August, Pikitup workers at the Waterval Depot in Albertville gathered to protest against the waste entity’s decision to hire people outside of the region they service.
They also protested against the fact that Pikitup had recently hired former workers from 2010 and 2011 while allowing current temporary workers’ contracts to expire.
The protesters chanted throughout the morning that they want to be made permanent employees of Pikitup, as they had been promised at the beginning of their contracts, which they signed at the beginning of the year.
Protesters claim they were sent text messages to come into the depot on 10 August to sign permanent contracts only to discover that they were being replaced by a new set of staff.
They disapproved of Pikitup’s decision to hire people from other cities and provinces while they, nearby residents and employment seekers, were ignored.
After receiving the news their employment would end at the end of the month they decided to barricade the depot’s entrance and demonstrate.
Thick black smoke polluted the air as tyres, rubbish and tree branches were being burnt during the protest.
Pikitup had anticipated the demonstrations as they experienced a similar protest at another one of their depots on 8 August.
This resulted in them obtaining a court order against any protesters.
The court order stated the protesters could proceed with their demonstrations under the conditions that they do not disturb the daily operations of Pikitup and happen at least 25 metres away from all their depots.
Police were on the scene all morning to ensure order was maintained and by 10.30am, a sheriff of the court had arrived advising the protesters to respect the court order.
Debates between the sheriff, the police and the protesters dragged on as all parties tried to figure out a way forward.
By 12 midday police advised the protesters to remove the objects barricading the entrance to the depot and elect five representatives to address the depot’s manager on their concerns and demands.
Although there were murmurs in the small crowd remaining outside the hostility seemed to calm.
The workers stated they will continue with their protest on Monday (13 August 2018) if a commitment to their demands hasn’t been made.