Rainbow strikers not chickening out

2011-07-05 00:00

ABOUT 300 strikers tried to set alight a staff bus at the Hammarsdale plant of Rainbow Chicken yesterday as the industrial stoppage entered its fifth week.

Human relations and corporate affairs director Steven Heath said the protesters stopped the bus and put a petrol bomb under it.

He said they also stoned police vehicles.

The striking members belong to the National Union of Food, Beverage, Wine, Spirit and Allied Workers and the Food and Allied Workers’ Union.

They are demanding a wage increase of 7,5% for processing employees and 8,5% for farmers.

The company is standing firm on its offers of 6,5% and sevent percent respectively.

“The union promised to come back to us to discuss the proposal, but now it seems like the union cannot control its members,” said Heath.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed the attack on the bus.

“The protesters threw something under the bus, but the bus didn’t catch alight.

“Only the wires under it caught fire, but it was immediately extinguished,” he said.

He said the protesters blocked the road with tyres.

A 46-year-old general worker who is known to The Witness and who is one of the strikers denied that they tried to burn the bus.

She said non-striking members started throwing stones at them and the protesters retaliated. She said the police shot at them with rubber bullets and discharged teargas.

The employee told The Witness that she has worked for Rainbow Chicken for 26 years and she earns R4 244 a month.

“We work very hard, under cold conditions and go home late at night.”

She said they will not stop protesting until their demands are met.

Heath said they have deployed security personnel at the plant to make sure that the non-striking members are protected.

Zwane said it is the security guards employed by the company who fired rubber bullets and a number of protesters were taken to hospital with injuries.

A case of malicious damage to property was opened. No one has been arrested.

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