[DEBATE] : SOUTH AFRICA: Weekend protest reports - labour and health advocates
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Mon Sep 10 06:55:11 BST 2007
Clashes as rubbish removal strike turns foul
Barry Bateman, Pretoria News, 8 September 2007
The rubbish removal strike turned violent on Friday when police opened
fire on a group of workers hurling stones at refuse trucks.
The clash between police and the disgruntled municipal waste management
contract workers erupted on the corner of Mitchell and Von Wielligh
streets when the strikers launched an attack on trucks trying to leave
the Pretoria West depot.
The Tshwane Metro Police and their SAPS colleagues anticipated the
attack and were standing by at all four corners of the intersection.
The strikers scattered with most running west along Mitchell Street,
with a nyala armoured vehicle hot on their heels. Police cornered
several of the protesters in a parking lot as they tried to hide behind
Stun grenades were used to root them out. They were then rounded up and
forced into the nyala.
No one was arrested because police could not distinguish between
strikers and innocent bystanders caught up in the commotion.
The trucks leaving the depot were the first signs of the disrupted
refuse removal service returning to normal.
The SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) affiliated contract workers have
been on strike since Monday. On Wednesday, the strike turned ugly when
strikers attacked several trucks, injuring 14 drivers and their assistants.
A waste management manager who did not want to be named said that by
today the service would be running at full steam with most trucks on the
But don't take out your dustbins just yet. The focus would be on
priority areas like industrial zones, hospitals and clinics. The trucks
will service residential areas from Monday after they have dealt with
the backlog in the priority areas.
Milnex employees downed tools on Monday demanding they be absorbed into
the council's workforce, that contract work be done away with and that
they receive better salaries.
Milnex is contracted by the council to undertake some refuse collection
duties on behalf of the council.
Milnex owner Jaco Leicester said he was bound to pay his employees that
which was stipulated in the tender awarded to his company by the
council. "I am bound by the tender; the council determines what they earn."
Council spokesperson Console Tleane said that they have been in
negotiations since Thursday with Samwu on the grievances detailed in a
memorandum handed to the council on August 8.
"While the matter involves staff of Milnex, some of whom are Samwu
members, council is intervening because constitutionally the council is
responsible for ensuring refuse collection services."
A striking shop steward who did not want to be named said they would not
return to work until the grievances raised in the memorandum had been
For now they would adhere to the court order and remain 500m from the
depot, he said. "There is no strike here; we just want a response."
Tleane said that the issue of contract workers had been brought before
the mayoral committee and the council will give feedback on Monday.
"It was agreed during negotiations that the city will keep Samwu
informed about the deliberations at the mayoral committee concerning
"In order to alleviate the strain on refuse removal caused by the strike
the city has put together contingency plans to ensure that, with or
without the workers who embarked on strike, efforts will be made to
resume cleaning," he said.
Tshwane refuse collectors' strike ruled illegal
Michael Appel, BuaNews, 7 September 2007
Pretoria - The ongoing strike by refuse collection workers contracted to
the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, has been ruled illegal and
unprotected by the High Court.
"The strike embarked upon by the workers is illegal and therefore
unprotected. No dispute was [ever] registered with the Council," the
metro said in a statement, Thursday.
The staff employed by Milnex, on Monday embarked on industrial strike
action through an "unprotected strike."
Refuse collection has therefore been affected in the greater Tshwane
metro, from Akasia in the north to Centurion in the south.
This left the metro with no choice but to obtain a High Court interdict
on Wednesday against South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU),
Milnex, and Milnex employees.
Milnex employees within the SAMWU had on 8 August 2007 presented the
municiplaity with a memorandum of grievances pertaining to contract matters.
Included in the unions' list of demands is that those workers employed
by labour brokerage companies, who are contracted by the Tshwane metro,
should be employed directly by the local authority.
While industrial action was only undertaken by the Milnex staff, the
strike has also impacted on other staff employed directly by the
Council, with cases of assault and intimidation having been reported,
according to the statement.
Due to the disruptions caused by the strike, the Council engaged in
negotiations with SAMWU in an effort to resolve the dispute.
Negotiations have primarily focussed on the content of the memorandum of
grievances, and the Council has indicated it will provide SAMWU with
feedback regarding the issue of contract workers.
The High Court has subsequently handed down its ruling on Wednesday
ordering the respondents to cease hostilities toward management, and
return to work immediately as they render an essential service.
In accordance with the court order, full service is expected to resume
on Friday. The union has, however, announced that it will seek legal
council regarding the court order.
The municipality has indicated it will await an official response from
Health for all now, demand marchers
Clayton Barnes, Sunday Argus, 9 September 2007
Community organisations, trade unions and religious groups on Saturday
banded together to try to force the government to improve the poor state
of South Africa's health system.
Sporting placards reading "SA Health Crisis is bigger than Manto vs
Routledge", "Public Health before Private Wealth" and "Health for all
NOW", hundreds of people marched through Site C, Khayelitsha, to mark
the launch of the People's Health Movement's Right to Health Campaign.
The posters referred to the rows involving Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge,
the former deputy health minister, who was axed by President Thabo Mbeki
after an abortive trip to Spain in August, and Health Minister Manto
Tshabalala-Msimang, accused in media reports of drinking immoderately
and of being convicted for stealing a patient's watch while she was
superintendent at a Botswana hospital.
The People's Health Movement, consisting of local organisations
including the Treatment Action Campaign, The Girl Child Organisation,
Cosatu, the South African Democratic Nurses' Union and community
churches, is a global movement aimed at ensuring that every human's
health becomes a political priority.
The movement is a broad coalition of individuals and organisations
mobilising grassroots support for an international right to health and
proper health care.
Leslie London, head of family health at the University of Cape Town and
one of the movement's organisers, said the movement aimed to change
current approaches to health and development in poorer countries.
"This is not just an organisation, it's a network. The movement is a
united front to fight the government for proper health-care facilities,
proper medication, more staff at health-care facilities and a healthier
London said South Africa needed a "strong, local and independent" civil
group to hold the government accountable for their actions.
"There are policies in place, but they are nothing if we don't
understand them and if they are not implemented correctly," he said.
Fredelene Booysen, TAC provincial co-ordinator, received thunderous
applause after condemning the Western Cape health department's public
hospital budget cuts.
The provincial health department slashed a total of R30-million from
Groote Schuur and Tygerberg hospitals' budgets earlier this year, with
the two facilities set to lose a combined total of 90 beds.
"Down with the Western Cape budget cuts, down," chanted Booysen, as she
took to the podium at Khayelitsha's OR Tambo Hall.
"We have to make sure our right to health is not compromised by anyone,
including the government."
Tony Ehrenreich, Cosatu's provincial secretary, echoed Booysen's
sentiments, saying organisations needed to press the government to
deliver on its election promises.
"Politicians and MECs, who put no money into public health, go to
private hospitals while our people suffer," he said.
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