CLEANING SECTOR ON STRIKE
By: Nontsikelelo Ngubane
Four unions in five cities are on a full-blown strike in the contract cleaning sector.
The SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu), Transport Action Retail & General Workers Union (Thor), National General Workers’ Union (Nagewu) and The Health & Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) said that thousands of cleaners went on strike all over KZN for a deserved salary increment.
In all the nine provinces in South Africa, only KZN cleaners are paid less than R15.66 per hour. Makiri Mathusi, an organizer for Thor, said that unions tried to negotiate a salary increment with respective employees but they were shunned.
He added that they gave their employers two years to reach the salary standard that other provinces were receiving, but they refused to meet them half way. Thereafter workers were angry and went on strike in preparation for a march that is to take place tomorrow at Botha Park heading to the City Hall.
The march will be graced with the presence of cleaners from Pietermaritzburg, Port Shepstone, Ladysmith and Richard’s Bay.
“Day after day, night after night they clean in office blocks in
universities, factories and in hospitals. They work long hours but their work is not appreciated,” he said.
Mathusi said that uniting as cleaners will help them champion this issue. “Although we are represented by different unions, we remain united in the struggle for better salaries,” he said.
He added that most of the cleaners were women which meant that they are mothers and bread-winners but they earned very little with minimal benefits like leave or provident funds. He also stated that though KZN has more money in the bag, it is the same province that pays its workers peanuts.
Other demands included a yearly 13th cheque, an eight-hour working day and for members in the rest of the country to be paid the same as those in KwaZulu-Natal.
The strike has affected cleaning at old age homes, private hospitals, universities and government institutions all over the province.