Police forced to fire teargas to disperse striking municipal workers

2014-05-06 00:00

POLICE were forced to fire teargas at municipal workers who rampaged through the Durban city centre burning tyres and upturning dustbins yesterday.

Over 10 000 South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) members walked from Currie’s Fountain Stadium, where they had been addressed by city officials, to city hall after being unhappy with the outcome of the meeting.

The workers are locked in an ongoing wage dispute that began in 2007 when the city introduced a new condition of service contract.

The union has successfully fought the condition of service through the courts. The workers are seeking back pay for the past seven years. According to the union, the city is offering three years’ back pay.

Samwu provincial secretary Jaycee Ncanane said the workers, some of them Metro Police officers, were unhappy with the city’s proposals to resolve the dispute.

“They walked to city hall. The city leadership then said they would meet with us [today] after discussing the dispute at a special council meeting,” said Ncanane.

He admitted that bins were overturned but said the workers were peaceful.

SAPS spokesperson Thulani Zwane said he was unaware of any injuries or arrests, but noted that the protest was “a big one” and that tyres were burnt.

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