After two years of employment without contracts, workers responsible for waste removal in Tembisa are furious at the unfair treatment they claim to have received from the City of Ekurhuleni’s main contractor, MCC Before Dawn.
The workers said they have been employed for years without employment contracts. They also said there were occasions where they were paid without receiving payslips.
When they raised their grievances with the contractor on August 28, they were told to hand over keys to their trucks to their employer.
Since then, several areas across Tembisa have experienced disruptions of waste collection services.
Nigel Malatjie, a workers’ representative, said the workers have suffered long enough working without contracts.
“When our previous contractor handed over to MCC Before Dawn in 2016, we’ve been working without our personal data being captured. We are assuming the current contractor is using a database that was previously used by the former contractor because no one from MCC Before Dawn demanded our personal details. What they required from us were our banking details,” said Malatjie.
Malatjie complained that since their transfer to the MCC Before Dawn, they have encountered difficulties. He said some of their colleagues have been suspended without a valid reason. Some have been fired, he said.
“We’ve realised that our jobs might also be on the line,” he added.
The workers decided on August 2 to approach the council’s Tembisa Customer Care Centre (CCC) at Rabasotho to hand over a memorandum of grievances. They reported their complaints to Busisiwe Mokoena, the city’s waste manager.
“They told us that they can only assist after engaging with the contractor since we are not employed by them. They promised to phone us but to no avail. We believe this is the responsibility of the city. They must deal with their contractor to issue to employees employment contracts and give us payslips on time,” added Malatjie.
The workers also claimed that although unemployment fund is deducted monthly, they have since discovered that the company is not registered.
“We are still shocked to learn that the company we work for is not registered with the Department of Labour. My question is why are we even paying tax? Our truck drivers have been struggling with their tax returns claims,” said Malatjie.
The spokesperson for MCC Velaphi Magagula said the allegations raised by the workers were not true.
“The workers have recently engaged in an illegal strike and prevented other workers from working. We’ve got proof that all the employees have signed the contracts with us. They do receive their payslips every month,” said Magagula.
Magagula said the confusion might have been caused by the workers who were engaged in an illegal strike, and an employee who faced a disciplinary hearing.
“I admit that I demanded the trucks’ keys because the workers did not want to go to work following a disciplinary hearing. Our duty as MCC Before Dawn is to keep Tembisa clean. They went as far as replacing their own union and recruited a political party, the EFF. They fired the union for advising them not to engage in an illegal strike without following proper channels,” he said.
Magagula said he was not happy about the manner in which the workers were trying to tarnish his company’s reputation.
“As a company, we have the mandate to keep the area clean, but unfortunately there are people who have ulterior motives and interfere with our work,” said Magagula.
When asked about whether the employees were registered with the Department of Labour, Magagula said he advised the workers to engage with their employers (Community-Based Contractors) about the matter as they are hired by them.
Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality spokesperson Themba Gadebe said the metro is aware of the workers’ complaints.
“The city has appointed MCC Before Dawn as a development contractor for the area, and they have appointed community-based contractors. Each community-based contractor has appointed drivers and general workers for comprehensive refuse removal in the area. All workers have signed employment contracts with their employers who are the community-based contractors (not the development contractor MCC Before Dawn),” added Gadebe.
Gadebe said the city has requested copies of employment contracts and has further requested the development contractor to intervene in resolving the dispute.
“One of the community-based contractors has taken two of their employees through a disciplinary process which went all the way to the CCMA. The two employees, a driver and general worker, were dismissed on August 23 and August 27 respectively. After hearing the outcome of the case all workers from community-based contractors went into a work stoppage in solidarity with the dismissed workers,” said Gadebe.
Gadebe said the community-based contractors have appointed temporary workers to assist with the normal refuse removal services in the area until the situation is normalised.