Strike violence in Johannesburg CBD

2011-02-14 19:07

Johannesburg - Four freight workers were injured after police fired rubber bullets in a protest that turned violent in the Johannesburg city centre on Monday afternoon.

The trouble started at midday when the protesters, from the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union, smashed the windows of 10 trucks, pulled drivers out of their vehicles and forced them to join the march.

"The protest turned violent on Rissik Street at about 12:20," said Metro spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar.

"The protesters smashed the windscreens of trucks. The situation was tense.

"Later in the afternoon the situation had calmed. The metro police and members of the SA Police Service were keeping a close watch on the protesters at the Library Gardens."

Knobkerries and loud music on Beyers Naude

The workers are demanding an increase of 20% over the next two years and the banning of labour brokers. The Road Freight Employers' Association (RFEA) has offered 15%.

The wage talks between the unions and RFEA deadlocked in December. The unions have been issued with a strike certificate by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

In 2009, Satawu and RFEA signed an agreement which included an 11% wage increase for all road freight industry workers across the board after workers embarked on a seven-day strike.

Satawu members who had gathered at Beyers Naude Square danced and shook knobkerries as loud music thumped around the square.

Many demonstrators drank from 2 litre cooldrink bottles and the ground around them was littered with sachets of cane, sambuca and brandy.

Cops joke with protesters

On the lawns of the square police joked and chatted with protesters, who were playing cards under a tree.

At the other end of the city centre, a separate group of about 500 protesters from the Motor Transport Workers' Union sang and danced outside the headquarters of the National Bargaining Council for the road freight industry.

Police had cordoned off the road and were maintaining a heavy presence.

A protester, who declined to be named, said the strike began at 06:00 on Sunday and would continue until the employers gave in to their demands.

"It's not a matter of 'should give in', it's a matter of 'must give in'."

A truck driver at Beyers Naude Square said he was protesting because he could hardly get by on the salary he was being paid.

65 000 workers to strike

"They are paying me less than R4 000 a month to drive a truck from 07:00 to 17:00. I cannot get by on this. They must raise our salaries by 20%," said the man who identified himself only as "Jan".

Satawu president June Dube said the road freight industry would be brought to a standstill as about 65 000 members intended joining the strike during the week.

Transport and Allied Workers' Union of SA (Tawusa) general secretary Zack Mankge said workers from other unions would join the strike on Tuesday.

"We are marching... to hand over a memorandum of demands to the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight Industry," he said.

Mankge said Tawusa was "not aware of any violence" and that the strike would be "peaceful".

"The unions will meet with the employer on Tuesday," he said

  • logical007 - 2011-02-14 19:29

    Why do the people striking hhave to 'STRIKE' Knobkerries and hurt innocent people? Why litter and break windows and trucks? Liquor is expensive, if you cannot afford to 'live' then buy essentials - not non-essentials such as alcohol. Now the man 'JAN' I guess is a union member ANC voter hoping for a 'better life since 1994? So why did he continue voting for such a corrupt government for 17yrs? Come on, these people need to wake up and face reality! Damage done by the striking union workers needs to be paid by unions. Anyone hurt by Union strikers must be dealt with appropriately.

      lean - 2011-02-15 16:08

      "why do the people striking have to 'STRIKE' Knobkerries and hurt innocent people? Why litter and break windows and trucks? " Agreed... Rather burn the TOLL GATES, and bomb ministers Houses ...

  • gen.mewmew - 2011-02-14 19:35

    less than R4000? be thankful for what you have fools!!!

      Totman - 2011-02-14 21:00

      I am not sure where he gets a salary less than R 4000.00. It is one of the industry that I am in and the drivers that I know earns from R 8000 to R 16000 taken home. After tax was deducted. The basic salary is reflected as low to pay less tax and his sleep-outs is raised because it is tax free. Than they also get commissions. There are also deductions if they loose tires and use too much fuel because if their fault and bad driving. The following words came from drivers that I spoke to today: The drivers that is causing most problems are the ones that are lower level of drivers and some are having records off bad driving. That is why they have to work for less paying jobs. They are also the ones that are giving us a bad name on the road with there behavior. They are the one's killing you, your wife and your children on the roads. They are mostly delivery vans and delivery truck drivers who can't stand on there own and now involve the real ones in it blocking roads and intimidate them. We do not even call them the cowboys on the road. We call them the rubbish on the roads. The real truck drivers are standing tonight because of intimidation. They have your goods on their truck and feel for you, but the union and his gang prevent us from doing our work. If the police can just clear the road no-one will stop us. We get forced to take part and loose money to gain a 10% yearly increase that we loose in a few days just standing.

  • Tunkisi - 2011-02-14 19:40

    @gen.mewmew & logical007 Sies!

      CharlSkeptic - 2011-02-15 09:38

      beating up people and destroying property deserves JAIL TIME and loss of jobs, but the cowards do it because they know they have a good chance of getting away with it. That, my friend, deserves at least a sies. Go figure

      TheUgly - 2011-07-15 11:16

      Surpressing people people with low salaries is a worse crime. Cause and effect.

  • maseratifitt - 2011-02-14 19:48

    Unions still don't get it. Negotiate a fixed % of CEO's package for drivers. This % remains constant. No need for future salary strikes.

      CharlSkeptic - 2011-02-15 09:49

      Thats too easy. It might create the impression that the unions have nothing to do for the rest of the year, and you know what they say "Out of sight out of mind"

  • briansmith702 - 2011-02-14 20:01

    What else would you expect from the bunnies that come from the jungle????

  • - 2011-02-14 20:14

    If you stop voting for a corrupt government then maybe one day South Africa will be a First world with First world salaries.

  • aquagasm - 2011-02-14 20:22

    Our striking friends forget that they still need to return to work after the strike. They damage their vehicles(which by the way is their means of income), they attack innocent people trying to make a living. Some of us cannot afford to stay away from work for two weeks. We need the money because the union do not put food in the mouths of our children. They do not pay our childrens school fees, when the electricity is cut off they do not offer to settle the bill. I wish they would open their eyes and see that the unions are only their to fill their pockets with your money, the money you work for. Stupidity has no limits,and the unions know who to blindside the unionised members.

      Snoopy88 - 2011-02-14 23:44

      And they have no friggin clue where the money to pay these increases must come from. They just think that its a bottomless pit and the more they demand the fewer jobs there will be. Like in the rest of the world you actually need to show that you are being productive to earn an increase! No wonder so many businesses are automating and doing without unskilled labour as much as they possibly can. No one wants to start factories here because South African labour is so notoriously volatile, expensive and unproductive. But they just can't see the bigger picture. If you want more jobs you need to get rid of the Unions!

  • Nonbeliever - 2011-02-14 20:40

    With any luck this can escalate into a mini Egypt and bring down Zuma.

  • Doug - 2011-02-14 22:10

    A truck driver needs a standard what? zuma has a standard 4 yet earns/steals a lot more than a truck driver.........

  • k1dbl4ck - 2011-02-14 23:26

    i love this country. its like a f#$%ng zoo.

  • AJ - 2011-02-15 05:11

    Rights are very important. If you dont join me in expressing my rights, then I will damage your vehicle, and pull you out of it and beat you and make you march with me.......yeah we're full of smart ones here..

  • AJ - 2011-02-15 05:18

    What is the deal with Unions and resultant damages from strikes? Most strikes are filmed so there is plenty evidence of damage by members. A law making them responsible financially for losses arising from damages should be an easy decision. At present they have no incentive at all for controlling their members' behaviour. When their members see a few million rand of their hardearned subs going to fix damage to trucks and shops that just a few hundred of their colleagues caused, then you'll see some improvement in behaviour, and quickly too.

      CharlSkeptic - 2011-02-15 09:52

      That would introduce accountability, which is not a concept the ANC or The Alliance is familiar with or would endorse

      CharlSkeptic - 2011-02-15 09:53

      Remember, if you are a socialist or communist, you expect someone else to pay for the free lunch.

  • Hardtalk - 2011-02-15 12:15

    Destroying Destroying Destroying; keep going smash everything, kill, rob, rape and anything else your warped minds can think of. You all prove every day what a bunch of useless lazy stupid idiots you really are. Then the whites will say to the world, there you are as we told you they are just a low life.

  • JK - 2011-02-15 12:22

    And did the police arrest the ones engaging in vandalism and assault? I guess not - so what good were they doing with their heavy presence? The unions and their members still don't get basic economic principles - in these tough times an extra 5% increase may mean that 5% of employees get retrenched to pay the others' wages. Also, the non-unionised people working in various industries have to be happy with 0% to 5% increases and can't strike or bargain.

  • mupet-killer - 2011-02-15 13:49


  • Salomé - 2011-02-16 08:46

    I believe everybody who were beaten up MUST sue the ANC, TAWUSA, and the Head of the union in her personal capacity must be sued for Billions. This is violence against those who try to keep the economy rolling. You tell the families of those in hospital fighting for their lives that your strike is not violent. You tell those innocent people that they have to pray to God for their son, father and husband's recovery, that your strike is peaceful.

  • Clive - 2011-02-16 09:20

    The unions always prattle on about their rights. Fair enough, but what about the rights of those who wish to work? Those who wish to go about their business in the city without the fear of violence and possible damage to their vehicles? Why does Cosatu not condemn outright these acts of violence and vandalism? I suppose it would be too much to expect the police to arrest and charge the thugs and vandals. Even if they did, Cosatu would pressure the government to have them released. How many union members were charged and convicted during the last two SAMWU strikes? Not one, I imagine, despite the violence, littering and malicious damage to property. Was the union ever required to pay for the damage and the cost of cleaning up? Not a chance. Is this really what democracy is all about? Let's face it: Cosatu runs the country.

  • Tramit - 2011-07-15 11:13

    Here we go again, when are you people going to stop raping the country,you complain that you don't get paid enought, start WORKING AND STOP BEEN LAZY,also if you want to strike then do it peaceful, instead you hurt people and be distructive, one day, when you have raped the country to the fullest then you will want the rest of the world to help you, YOU IDIOTS HAVE NO BRAIN, EVEN AND ANIMAL HAS MORE BRAINS THAN YOU

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