MPs fear for safety after workers storm committee rooms

2015-11-11 12:13
Striking workers disrupt a committee meeting in Parliament. (Thulani Gqirana, News24)

Striking workers disrupt a committee meeting in Parliament. (Thulani Gqirana, News24)

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Cape Town - Riot police moved in on striking Parliament workers on Wednesday, firing stun grenades and demanding that they vacate the area.

Members of Parliament earlier expressed concern over their safety, following disruptions by striking workers on Wednesday.

This after workers declared that no committee would sit on Wednesday until their demands were met.

Storming into various meeting rooms which had committees sitting, the workers blew vuvuzelas, whistles and sung until MPs abandoned their stations.

- Read more: Parliament to implement interdict against striking workers

African National Congress, Democratic Alliance, Freedom Front Plus and Economic Freedom Fighters MPs agreed that it was unacceptable for work to be disrupted.

FF+ MP Pieter Groenewald said they needed to make sure the invasion did not happen again, and needed to inform security when they decided to reconvene.

“We don’t know if they are going to decide to be violent against us.”

In the police committee, which was attended by MPs and Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu, the chairperson opted to take a break until the strikers moved on, and reconvened after 20 minutes.

But the committee could not continue working as most of the documents needed had "disappeared" during the workers' invasion.


Protesters in Parliament (Thulani Gqirana, News24)

Demands

Nehawu Parliament branch chairperson Sthembiso Tembe said they had been told they would not be paid, and refused to let anyone work while they were struggling for their demands.

“We are humbly asking the MPs to leave, this has nothing to do with them but we will not rest until our demands are met.”

MPs said it was against the law for committees to be disrupted.

Condemning the act, Sotyu said the chairpersons of committees needed to meet with Parliament leadership to sort out the issues with Nehawu, as stealing documents was a crime.

“If things continue the way they are now, it will be a serious problem as we have a lot of work to complete in Parliament.”

Water committee disrupted

Striking Parliament employees also drowned out the water committee trying dealing with the country's drought crisis. This was in spite of an interdict obtained against the workers to prevent such action.

''We are adjourned,'' said committee chairperson Lulu Johnson as about 100 protesters took over the room, clapping and singing.

The committee had just been told that Mpumalanga was about to become the fifth province to be declared a drought disaster zone, together with KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, North West and Free State.

The protesting group banged on tables where just a few minutes earlier committee members had demanded answers on what would be done by water used illegally by some mining companies, and allegations that the department had ignored the crisis for too long.

The group left after a few minutes. They are in dispute over outsourcing and security vetting.


Protesters at Parliament's committee on Water and Sanitation (Jenni Evans, News)
Read more on:    cape town  |  labour  |  parliament 2015  |  strikes

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