Call for protection ahead of protests

2014-06-26 00:00

ESTABLISHED businesses and street vendors in Dr Pixley ka Seme Street are scared and calling for protection ahead of the National Union of Metal Workers (Numsa) march planned for next ­Tuesday.

The union will march down Pixley ka Seme Street to present a memorandum of demand to the engineering sector employer agency, the National Employers Association of South Africa and the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA).

The parties have been at the negotiating table for three months now, with no agreement reached.

Mbuso Ngubane, Numsa provincial spokesperson, said their demands include the banning of labour brokers, 15% salary increase across the board and better working conditions.

The negotiations ended in a stalemate yesterday.

“The socioeconomic climate affects us too,” said Ngubane.

“The basic needs increase all the time but the salaries are not improving. The employer even displayed arrogance by saying whatever offer made can only be negotiated in three years and we said no, we want a one year agreement.”

In a statement, SEIFSA CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba said: “We offered the union a seven percent all-inclusive, cost-of-employment increase in 2014 and a CPI plus 0% increase in 2015 and 2016 respectively for Rate A and an eight percent all-inclusive, cost-of-employment increase in 2014 and a CPI plus one percent increase in 2015 and 2016 respectively for Rate H.”

CPI (consumer price index) is an economic indicator that measures the rate of inflation by tracking the cost of a fixed basket of goods and services for urban consumers.

Two weeks ago, taxi operators and their bosses during a march from Botha Park to the city hall, went on the rampage damaging two buses, a metro police vehicle and overturning vendors’ stalls. Glass doors and windows were also smashed by the marchers who were part of the KZN Transport Alliance.

They demanded the removal of Transport MEC Willies Mchunu and access to information with regard to eThekwini Municipality’s integrated land passenger transport plan and consultation on bus rapid transport in Durban, Pietermaritzburg and other cities.

At the time, provincial police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker had said five suspects were arrested for malicious damage to property and public violence. They were released on bail and their cases are ongoing.

David Fernandez, Edgars manager, said it was scary to think of the coming march on Tuesday.

“We can’t judge the coming march by what happened in the past, but at the same time we can’t pretend as if we are not concerned.

“Our glass door and windows were broken during the last march, and we had to close our store to prevent further damage. If participants in the coming march become violent, we will have to close shop for the duration of the demonstration, and that will mean losing business just like the last time.”

Milady’s assistant manager Maya Reddy said that during the previous march, one man broke the shop’s steel burglar gate with an axe.

“They wanted to get inside by force. I don’t know why. Our security guard was left with a fractured arm after a man hit him with a thick plank. If there’s a march on Tuesday, we will definitely close shop. We can’t risk the safety of our staff and the security of our stock. We will lose business, but better that than to get hurt.”

The security guard Dumisani Madlala said he didn’t report the matter to the police. “After the doctor released me, I couldn’t report the matter because I don’t know who attacked me. The guys were violent and uncontrollable.”

Andrew Layman, chairperson of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said using the same route when marching to the city hall has a devastating effect to business on the route. “This is really a matter of concern. While the Chamber respects the right to strike, the outcomes are devastating to the Durban economy.”

Provincial police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said to prevent what happened in the previous march from happening again, sufficient police manpower will be deployed. “We are appealing to the protesters to behave themselves. We respect their right to protest but they must not break the law.”

Metro police Superintendent Sbonelo Mchunu said they will ensure a free flow of traffic during the march.

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