Home vandalised in wage strike

2010-06-30 00:00

A CASE of malicious damage to property has been brought against 14 Allison Homes Trust workers, police confirmed, after they allegedly damaged the old-age home’s concrete fence on Monday during a wage dispute with management.

The first leg of the strike kicked off on Tuesday last week when 14 of the home’s maintenance workers downed tools and staged demonstrations outside the home’s premises in pursuit of a wage increase.

The strike, which was staged against the Allison Homes Trust management, saw the disgruntled workers cutting off the water supply to the retirement home.

The workers admitted to The Witness that cutting off the water supply was meant to draw the residents into the wage tussle.

Residents complained of being unable to cook, wash, take medication or flush their toilets.

A day after the strike had begun, the workers emptied piles of refuse on the premises, blocking some of the retirement home’s entry and exit points.

It was alleged on Monday that the workers, who were said to be armed with hammers, damaged the home’s concrete fence.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has denied knowledge of who was tampering with water meters.

The union previously said it does not support its members’ behaviour.

It maintained that it has always told the management of the old-age home to consult it if they are having problems with the strike.

“But they never came forward. As Nehawu, we always leave room for discussion,” said Nehawu regional organiser Lungisani Zondi.

The Witness has seen three letters from the Allison Homes Trust management addressed to the workers in connection with the water issue.

Zondi denied he had ever received any of them.

After a week, no agreement was reached between the two parties.

Both Nehawu and management told The Witness that their “doors are open for negotiation”.

“The union is still on strike and we are still open for discussion,” Allison Homes Trust manager Bill Sutherland told The Witness.

Sutherland said that after the union rejected the management’s compromise offer during a session with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, they told the union their door is still open for talks .

The Witness has also learned that, at a meeting between residents and management on Thursday last week, management refused to give into the workers’ demands because they are “way higher than what management could afford”.

Sources close to the matter said that management’s compromise offer presented at the CCMA session stands at seven percent,while the workers demand 12%.

Zondi told The Witness that the union rejected the compromise offer because the workers “were paid below market standard”.

Despite the malicious damage to property case, he added, “the strike continues”.

Police are still investigating and have not made any arrests.

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