Police arrest 26 over strike-related crimes

Johannesburg - Police spokesperson Lungelo Dlamini said on Friday that 26 people had been arrested in Gauteng for intimidation, public violence and malicious damage to property as police monitored the metals and engineering strike.

He said the 26 had been arrested in connection with crimes committed over the past three days.

Of these, 19 people were arrested in Elandsfontein on the East Rand after protesters, believed to be strikers in the metals and engineering industries, broke the gate of a business.

Breaking windows

When police arrived, the crowd stoned their vehicles. Police used rubber bullets to disperse them.

In a separate incident in Benoni on Thursday, around 2 000 striking workers forced their way into a company and damaged equipment and computers. The damage was estimated at several million rand.

In Wadeville, also on the East Rand, nine people were arrested for allegedly breaking windows at business premises.

"Although it is a protected strike and employees are allowed to picket, acts of violence will not be tolerated and police are ready to take action," Dlamini said.

Wage increase

Majority union in the metals and engineering industries, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) embarked on an indefinite strike on Tuesday. Several smaller unions have joined the strike.

Numsa is demanding a one-year bargaining agreement, including a 15% wage increase, a R1 000 housing allowance and the scrapping of labour brokers.

The biggest employers' organisation, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA (Seifsa) on Thursday tabled a three-year wage offer of between eight and 10 percent for different levels of workers in the first year.

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