Strikers damage property

2014-07-17 00:00

POLICE are investigating three cases of damage to property after a strike-related march of about 200 workers turned ugly at Toyota’s Prospecton plant.

The 16-day-old strike by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) in the engineering and metals sectors continued yesterday, affecting production in the auto industry, as well as at building and construction companies.

Toyota South Africa spokesperson Mary Willemse said they had, as of yesterday, suspended production of Corolla and Hilux/Fortuner vehicles due to the strike. Quantum vehicle assembly and the truck plant were still operating at full capacity.

“There were no injuries reported and no arrests made,” police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said of the march at the Prospecton plant.

Workers allegedly threw stones at passing vehicles, damaging them.

“Most steel/engineering manufacturers in Durban have been affected, and this includes the automotive component companies,” said Andrew Layman, CEO of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“This affects competitiveness. If a company like Toyota is frustrated by low production in SA and the local company’s failure to meet orders on time, it may move the manufacture to another plant in another country,” Layman said.

Meanwhile, Numsa said yesterday in a statement it planned to step up strike action. Activities to be rolled out “immediately” were further marches, meetings in industrial areas, lunch-time pickets and demonstrations in sectors affected by the strike, such as at the automobile, tyre and rubber, Eskom, mining and Transnet.

The Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut said over the past few days many companies had reported incidents of vandalism by workers dressed in Numsa T-shirts to business chambers on the East Rand, and it called on the police to protect companies targeted by striking workers.

Numsa members downed tools on July 1, initially demanding a wage hike of 12% — dropped from their pre-strike demand of 15% on Sunday — a R1 000 housing allowance, and a ban on labour brokers.

The Steel and Engineering Industry Federation of South Africa (Seifsa) had offered a 10% wage increase in 2014, 9,5% in 2015, and nine percent in 2016, which Numsa rejected.

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