Municipal workers and unemployed want Cape Town to create more jobs

The meeting in Rylands Civic Hall organised by SAMWU criticised the City of Cape Town for not doing enough to create more jobs. Photo by Mzi Velapi

SAMWU is building its own database of unemployed workers and wants the City of Cape Town to use it when recruiting for EPWP projects.

The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) wants the City of Cape Town to fill all available vacancies with candidates from the union’s database. This emerged from a general meeting of the unemployed, Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers, labour broker workers and dismissed SAMWU members that was held at Rylands Civic Hall on Wednesday. SAMWU’s regional secretary, Mike Khumalo said that they want the City of Cape Town to fill current vacancies, end labour broking and reinstate dismissed workers. “We know that there are vacancies that have not been filled and we estimate that there are 10,000 that have not been filled… in all departments,” said Khumalo.

According to Khumalo, they want the City not only to create more jobs under the Extended Public Works Programme but to also employ workers on full-time bases and that the vacancies should be filled by young, energetic people. “The City instead of employing young people are employing elderly people,” claimed Khumalo.

Nadia Bester, a mother of three from Hanover Park told Elitsha that she has been unemployed for the past three years. She said she thinks the City is not doing enough to create jobs as there are opportunities that they are not exploring. “They need to create more job opportunities within the community. The Civic Centre and swimming pools, public toilets in Hanover Park, are closed. They should open them and employ people from the community, but they do not care about us. The City of Cape Town does not work for us. And when its election it’s the same thing. They come and promise us jobs but they don’t deliver,” she said.

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Meanwhile, Gershwin Martin also from Hanover Park, who has been getting short contracts through the EPWP, said that the money that he earns only covers transport costs. “The last job I got was a week contract and all the money went into transport costs. You have to lend money to go to work and you’re getting more into a debt cycle,” he said.

A 56-year-old EPWP worker from Hanover Park who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of being victimised said that they have not been paid even though their contracts indicate that they will be paid every fortnight. “We were supposed to be paid about two weeks ago but we have not been paid. We do not know what is happening and our phone calls go unanswered,” she said.

The EPWP projects were introduced by government in 2003 as a complementary measure to reduce poverty and curb rising unemployment. In a report published by the SA Cities Network and the Department of Public Works, Cape Town has come out tops in the implementation of the EPWP, with the city implementing 547 projects out of the 1,303 across the nine cities assessed. The report shows that Cape Town implemented 84% of the projects in the last financial year.

At the time of publishing, the City of Cape Town had not responded to questions sent by Elitsha.

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