Striking workers claim they were attacked at Clover plant

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Clover workers, who have been on strike since last November, marched through Johannesburg.
Clover workers, who have been on strike since last November, marched through Johannesburg.
Masego Mafata
  • Three striking workers were attacked on Monday evening at a Clover plant.
  • One worker is still in hospital.
  • Unions allege that thugs have been hired to intimidate striking workers.
  • The strike started in November.

Three striking workers were attacked on Monday evening at a Clover plant in Clayville, Ekurhuleni.

A joint statement on Monday evening by the General Industrial Workers’ Union of South Africa (GIWUSA) and the Food and Allied Workers’ Union (FAWU) said two taxis and a private car arrived at the Clayville factory around 6pm and the striking workers were attacked.

One of the workers was "beaten badly" outside the factory. The other two workers "were taken into the factory where they were assaulted", the unions said.

A worker who was present at the scene said the two workers were only released after the police and an ambulance arrived hours later.

The three workers were taken to Tembisa hospital. Two have been released.

"I took one of the injured workers [beaten inside the factory] to Tembisa hospital … He is seriously injured and still in hospital. We are worried for our safety, but this doesn’t mean we will stop the strike," said a worker, who asked not to be named.

Workers have been picketing at Clover factories and plants as part of the strike since November last year.

Workers are demanding that Clover stop plans for further retrenchments, factory closures and salary cuts. They have also called for the company to reinstate dismissed workers.

GIWUSA national organiser Charles Phahla said a case had been opened at the Olifantsfontein police station near Clayville.

SAPS Lieutenant-Colonel Mavela Masondo confirmed that a case of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm was opened on Tuesday. Four suspects were arrested and taken to court the same day.

Phahla said the incident will not derail plans to intensify the strike which will continue until their demands are met.

According to the unions, the taxis had no number plates and have been transporting non-striking workers to the Clayville Clover factory. But these workers have now been sleeping at the factory.

The unions accused Clover of hiring the taxi drivers as "thugs and hitmen" to intimidate striking workers.

"We were on the scene and we spoke to local taxi associations and they said they don’t know those drivers," said Phahla.

Clover denied these allegations.

"Taxi drivers involved do not work for Clover nor were they under any instruction from us to drive anyone, nor do we pay them," said Steven Velthuysen, a Clover Group Manager.

"As we understand, striking workers started throwing stones at Clover trucks at the Clayville branch. Taxi drivers who transport passengers to and from the area became involved. [Police] were dispatched, and we are reliably informed that two taxi drivers were arrested. The matter remains in the hands of the [police]."

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