Workers protest closing of shop

2013-11-15 00:00

WORKERS from Siyaya Cash and Carry went on the rampage blocking Pietermaritz Street yesterday, demanding that Msunduzi Municipal officials reopen the shop.

They burned tyres and toyi-toyied, singing struggle songs, until police were called and helped to control the traffic flow.

An employee, Themba Sibiya, said he had been working for Siyaya for 18 years. “We might not be doing a fancy job, but it is important for us because it is the only means we have to feed our families,” he said.

Sibiya asked: “We believe we are now [safety] compliant, so why is our shop still closed? Most of the shops in Pietermaritz Street are not complying, so why is our shop being targeted?”

Sibiya said with their shop being closed for seven days, it meant they would suffer salary losses.

“We need to our shop opened because Christmas is around the corner and we need every cent we can get for our children’s sake,” he said.

Sibiya said this was affecting more than 180 workers employed by Siyaya, which meant that almost 1 000 people are affected, if each person supports five people.

Siyaya shop owner Shabeer Noorgat, who arrived in his BMW X5, received a hero’s welcome from the striking workers.

“From the beginning, it was not our intention not to comply and it was unfortunate that the time given to us for compliance was short. However, we have managed to comply with the fire and safety regulations,” he said.

Noorgat said they were hoping that the municipality would open their shop, which previously burned down.

Municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma questioned whether the shop had notified the municipality that they had completed the work and were ready for inspection. Siyaya manager Indraan Pillay said they had informed the municipality’s legal division and fire department, which were supposed to go out on Wednesday afternoon, but postponed the visit. They were supposed to visit Siyaya yesterday and postponed again.

Zuma was asked about these postponed visits, but did not respond to The Witness by the time of going to press.

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