DBN on tenterhooks

2014-07-04 00:00

AS the national strike by trade union Numsa enters is fourth day, public order police units and security forces have been deployed across Durban to deal with pockets of violent protest action.

Businesses across the city are counting the cost of having to close their doors, under the threat of violence from armed workers. Gangs of strikers clad in red union T-shirts and armed with traditional weapons have made their presence felt in industrial areas in Pinetown and Riverhorse Valley.

Cars and businesses were damaged on Wednesday in Westmead, allegedly by a group of 300 striking workers.

Cars which had been parked at the roadside were stoned, and other employees who had not embarked on their stay-away were forced to flee.

Businesses have called in heavily armed security teams as the protest wears on, despite assurances from police that the situation was under control. The strike by more than 220 000 engineering workers which started on Tuesday, hot on the heels of a crippling platinum boycott which ended last week, will likely keep South Africa’s ­economic growth depressed below two percent this year.

Police spokesperson Captain ­Thulani Zwane said police from across the city were monitoring the situation, but all was quiet.

The union wants a 12% salary increase, the scrapping of labour brokers, and a one-year bargaining agreement.

Negotiations between the country’s largest union and employers deadlocked after five weeks of going to and from the table. This led to a notice of strike action from the majority Numsa, as well as the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood, and Allied Workers’ Union, and the General Industries Workers’ Union of SA.

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