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By Jabulile Mbatha

Journalist


‘We work unpaid overtime to keep our jobs’ – Pikitup employees

Pikitup casual workers express frustration over lack of compensation and benefits, highlighting hazardous working conditions.


Casual workers at Pikitup say they are at the bottom of the barrel, doing high-risk work which leaves them without compensation if the are injured on duty.

This is because of the nature of their contracts, which do not include any benefits. One such worker is Zanele Mcetywa, who has a scar on her stomach that is almost 10cm long from an injury she sustained while picking up garbage.

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In October 2022, she was assisting a team that was short-staffed when she was hit by a car that crashed into the truck and pressed her against the bin lifter.

“I was admitted into the intensive care unit [ICU]. The injuries to my stomach were severe as my liver was ruptured and lungs [damaged],” she said.

She said she stayed in the ICU for three months. “When I returned to work I found they had given my job to someone else,” she said.

Mcetywa said she regrets filling in for someone that day. She has since been reinstated. Another worker Ntokozo Sibisi is all too familiar with the concept of filling in for others, reiterating that refusal could result in job loss.

“We are supposed to work from 7am to 3pm but we work till 8pm because we cannot knock off before completing our work. We don’t get paid overtime. We are forced to work unpaid overtime because we want to keep our jobs,” Sibisi said.

He is also concerned about their working conditions.

“We don’t have uniforms, safety boots or rain coats. We work in the rain and we are at risk of being injured on duty,” he said.

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At a protest at the Waterval depot yesterday, some workers who wanted to remain anonymous showed The Citizen injuries they sustained on duty, also claiming to have gone without compensation.

The protesters’ frustration started after other employees were considered for permanent employment, leaving them in the cold, even after being contracted to the company for years.

The contracts stipulate that the minimum experience required is “12 months relevant or similar experience”, which many of the casual workers have.

The remuneration listed is R9 531.55 excluding benefits which workers like Thandisiwe Mbele say they can only dream of.

She is part of Expanded Public Works Programme under Pikitup. She said they earn R120 a day and never get paid extra for working on holidays or overtime.

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