DA pushes non-strikers bill
Johannesburg - Alleged violence during the public sector strike this week has prompted the Democratic Alliance to push harder for the tabling of the Private Members' Legislative Proposal in Parliament.
"In light of continuing lawlessness and violence during public sector strike, the DA will be increasing its efforts to ensure that this bill is tabled," MP Ian Ollis said.
The proposal, which was submitted to Parliament by the DA in October, sought to protect non-striking workers and the public from violence and intimidation, and to protect public and private property from malicious destruction during strike action.
The legislation, if passed, would make unions liable for penalties and damages for the undisciplined behaviour of individual members.
Such penalties would be imposed on unions, or any party to a strike, if the prescribed good practice was not followed during a legitimate industrial action.
Ollis said on Wednesday that the party was concerned about media reports of many incidents of violence and intimidation, particularly on the East Rand.
"These include stone-throwing, widespread damage to property and intimidation of non-strikers.
"The DA fully supports the constitutional right of workers to strike... However, this right should never infringe the rights of others, and violent behaviour during strike action should not be condoned or tolerated."
Brandishing a gun
The Star reported that a non-striking worker was assaulted with a knobkerrie in the Devland industrial area, near Soweto, on Tuesday where metalworkers were striking. This could not be confirmed by the police.
Ollis said a picture on the IOL website of a protester in Congress of SA Trade Union (Cosatu) colours brandishing a gun was irresponsible and dangerous, and amounted to incitement of violence.
"Cosatu needs to ensure that its marshals are doing their jobs by educating workers on how to conduct themselves during strike action. It would appear from the recent violence that they are not doing enough in this regard," Ollis said in a statement.
Cosatu condemned violence and intimidation, said spokesperson Patrick Craven.
"In general, Cosatu activities have always been peaceful, disciplined, orderly and legal. We always do everything we can to maintain that tradition.
"Unfortunately, there are sometimes people involved in demonstrations who are not subject to our discipline and we totally reject the view that trade unions must be held liable for damage done by members of the public who are not part of the Cosatu protest," he said.
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA believed the unconfirmed reports of intimidation and violence were an attempt by "some elements" to sabotage the strike action.
"Numsa is not a union of hooligans. We have disciplined and organised members," said spokesperson Castro Ngobese.
"We are not going to allow anyone to undermine our organised, united strike," he said.