Workers vow to keep fighting after mayor attacked with knobkierie

2016-03-23 11:09
Mayor Ewald Loock (Photo supplied)

Mayor Ewald Loock (Photo supplied)

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East London - Striking workers in a small Eastern Cape municipality, where the mayor was attacked during a protest last week, have vowed to continue their strike until their grievances are addressed, GroundUp reports.

Baviaans Mayor Ewald Loock was beaten with a knobkierie on Friday when workers forced their way into his office.

Workers affiliated with the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) in Willowmore went on strike in January demanding better working conditions, protective clothing, and a salary increase before their municipality merges with the Ikwezi (Jansenville) and Camdeboo (Graaff-Reinet) municipalities.

Samwu provincial secretary Milton Myola said workers' demands were not being given priority.

People who had been casual workers for years wanted to be employed full time and demanded protective clothing.

Workers forced way into office

Baviaans Samwu leader Gerhard Davids said the strike would continue until the issues raised had been addressed.

Loock was injured when workers forced their way into his office.

"There was a group of rowdy, striking workers accompanied by their family members. They forced their way into the mayor's office and damaged property.

“I tried to address them and prevent them from attacking my staff. One of the strikers held up my hand and I was hit with a knobkierie on the head. I passed out," he said.

Loock received six stitches at the local clinic and later went to Oudtshoorn hospital.

"Workers and their family members are angry at the municipality because they have not been paid since January. They know that payday is this week and because of the no work no pay system, they will obviously not get their salaries.”

‘Attack the work of criminals’

The Baviaans municipality is the only one in the Eastern Cape run by the Democratic Alliance. DA constituency leader Malcolm Figgs condemned the “vicious and ugly assault on the mayor”.

The ANC issued a statement in which it condemned the attack and called for “a mature way of handling disagreements" between Baviaans municipal management and workers.

“We strongly condemn the beating of the mayor and we further state that violence will not benefit anyone as it widens divisions."

Samwu's Milton Myola said the attack was the work of criminals.

“We do not have criminals in our workforce," he said.

Police spokesperson Major Ernest Sigobe said a 47-year-old man was arrested and would appear in court soon.

Read more on:    da  |  samwu  |  east london  |  service delivery  |  labour

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