Grave diggers go on strike

A family digs a grave for reburial over the weekend after they discovered that the employees who were supposed to do the job were on strike. Photo: Lazarus Dithagiso

Lazarus Dithagiso

VANDERBIJLPARK. – Grave diggers around the Emfuleni area recently downed tools because their employer had not been paid for four months.

This was because Emfuleni Local Municipality (ELM) apparently failed to honour the contract agreement.

The service provider, a tendered subcontractor of ELM instructed it’s workers to stop digging graves until the ELM had made the payment.

The private company was supposed to have dug 31 graves on Friday, October 5. This is aside from reburials of which old graves were also to be opened.

At least five cemeteries were are affected.

According to the workers, it normally takes 40 minutes to dig one grave so even if the money had been released by 14:00 on Friday the workers would have been busy until after nightfall.

The workers claimed to also not have been paid for overtime.

The affected cemeteries included Jakobskop, Rust-Ter-Vaal, Phelandaba and Vanderbijlpark. Dingane Mzangwane, one of the family members who were left stranded by the strike, said they demand that ELM pay back their money as the squabble was between the contractor and ELM which had nothing to do with them.

“We paid the municipality a week before. They assured us good service and now we had to do our own digging as we only learnt about the strike on Saturday morning.”

Sonqoba Kunene, ELM spokesperson, said no families were granted permission to dig their own deceased’s grave.

“They do not know the norms, standards and sizes of the graves and we made the payment settlement with the main service provider.”

On whether the families would be paid back their monies, Kunene said he will speak to the Municipal Manager and Manager for Cemeteries about the matter.


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