Scary stories from a lovely place
Strikes are old school in Johannesburg. There’s marching, singing, shouting, violence, guns, destruction and general mayhem. When the police go on strike they shout at commuters, brandish their weapons and even fire them at the other police. When the army go on strike they march on the government buildings, brandish their weapons and tustle with the police. When the taxi driver’s go on strike they pull commuters off busses, fire their weapons at bus drivers, block all lanes of major highways and exit ramps, set busses on fire and prevent millions of people from getting to work so they can get paid.
From memory my only experience of strikes when I lived in Australia was when the teacher’s went on strike and everyone got a day off school. But because I went to a private school none of my high-achieving teacher’s went on strike and so we had to traipse jealously off to school. Nope, I really can’t remember any other strikes. As a Kwera Kwera I like how they do it here. It’s passionate and fervent, and more truthful somehow. When you’re disgruntled about pay rates what says anarchy more than trashing the city or burning a bus?
The most recent strike has been the rubbish collector’s and so for 2 or 3 weeks no bins were collected. Sounds simple enough? But no, this meant that trash piled up all over the place on street corners, median strips, outside buildings, everywhere. It was pretty nasty. And when these municipal workers did their official demonstration downtown, they did what all good Jozi striker’s do, they trashed the city on the way. Bins were upturned, the piling rubbish was flung everywhere. It looked apocalyptic.
In the local paper last week lots of annoying residents wrote in complaining about the strike. There was picture after picture of piles of trash (really, once you’ve seen one they’re all the same) and articles about how people were forced to pile up their trash on the street. What? Since when is a strike or a full wheelie bin an excuse to pollute the neighbourhood? It’s not. People love to be lazy.
It’s pretty much all cleaned up now, though there are remnants of the strike still lingering on many street corners. It all ended last week, and interestingly on Tuesday which was a public holiday. We were celebrating Freedom Day which commemorates the first democratic elections in 1994. Clearly, an important day for South Africa to stop and remember. Amazingly though at about 5pm the garbage truck came to collect my very pregnant bin. As much as the strike was personally an inconvenience and publically a mess, I admire their spirit in coming out on their day off.