Cape municipal workers warned

2011-08-16 14:12

The City of Cape Town has warned striking municipal workers that it will take “whatever action is necessary” to protect its property after a protest for higher wages turned violent in the city centre this morning.

“Should Samwu (the South African Municipal Workers Union) and its members continue to behave in the manner displayed thus far, the city will have no option but to take whatever action is lawfully necessary to ensure the safety of its employees, the community and public property,” Demetri Qually, the mayoral committee member for corporate services said.

As a result of the violence the city said it would seek an interdict against the continuation of the strike.

Earlier today, municipal workers looted from vendors, set plastic bins on fire and smashed the windows of vehicles as they protested in the city centre.

The city’s main shopping avenue, Adderley Street, was left covered with litter and burnt out bins.

A number of vendors who sell goods such as cosmetics, coffee, wallets and belts on the pavements of the street were unpacking goods they had tried to hide as the workers approached.

Shops on the street locked their doors as the workers, who were seen smashing the windows of vehicles, approached.

Parliament, near the top end of Adderley Street, was also cordoned off by the police.

Protesters who were arrested, amounting to 13, would be charged with public violence, according to police.

Samwu is demanding an 18% pay increase. The SA Local Government Association is offering 6%.

The countrywide strike began yesterday.

The City of Cape Town said 5 170 staff or 21% of the its workforce was absent from work without authorisation today.

“The practise of coming in to work first seems to be part of Samwu members’ strategy of trying to intimidate their colleagues into participating in the strike and hindering the delivery of municipal services,” the city said.

“The city is investigating a possible case of abduction of two staff members in the northern suburbs who refused to participate in the strike.”

The city said the strike has had “a significant impact” on refuse collection.

“The city’s crews worked late into last night to try and address the backlog, but unfortunately could not clear all of it.”

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