More and more local governments across South Africa are privatising their waste management systems. They are doing so because of the national government’s push to get the private sector more involved in providing basic services. Who are the winners and who are the losers? Research conducted in Thabazimbi, Sol Plaatje and Johannesburg shows that both workers and working-class communities suffer as a result of privatization of basic services. It also shows how, because of the gender division of labour at work and at home, and because women waste management workers employed by private companies are largely left out of collective bargaining agreements, it is women workers who suffer most.