Strike hits burning point

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Members of the Public Order Police (POP) on guard against further acts of violence, as road workers continue with a strike over unpaid monies. Photo: Teboho Setena
Members of the Public Order Police (POP) on guard against further acts of violence, as road workers continue with a strike over unpaid monies. Photo: Teboho Setena

Work on the Mangaung Metro Municipality’s Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN) is up in smoke.

This as scores of disgruntled workers employed by sub­contractors continue with their strike over outstanding monies.

The approximately 50 workers, men and women, have downed tools to demand money owed to them for February.

On Tuesday (06/04), the protest entered its second week, having started on Monday, 29 March.

Angry workers who talked to Expressanonymously out of fear of intimidation have vowed to continue to protest and disrupt work on this roads project until they are paid their outstanding money.

It is understood that talks between workers and employers to resolve the payment issue have reached deadlock.

Construction is being done on Fort Hare Road, Maphisa Road, Moshoeshoe Street and Chief Moroka Crescent. Burning tyres, stones and rocks were used to barricade these roads.

A thick blanket of smoke covering the area could be seen from a distance on various days of the protest.

According to the protesting workers, they aimed to bring to the attention of the public their ongoing plight of continuing with work in spite of not being paid full wages on time.

“The principle of no work, no pay suits employers when we demand our salaries. We have already been working for months with no payment,” said an angry worker.

They threatened to intensify action.

“If they fire anyone, we are going to continue disrupting construction work. Everyone employed here must complete his or her term.”

The wage strike had been fuelled by the police’s arrest of three workers on the first day of the prostest action.

They were granted bail of R500 each after appearing in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, 31 March.

They face charges of public disturbance and arson, similar to the 13 workers who were arrested in October last year during a similar protest.

The Mangaung Metro Municipality has resorted to legal action in an attempt to quell the protest.

The municipality, as the custodian of the road work projects, has secured a court interdict giving its law enforcement agencies and the police power to act and purge alleged instigators of the protest.

The municipal authority secured this interdict on Wednesday.

Qondile Khedama, municipal spokesperson, said the municipality would implement the interdict to ensure there was no disruptions to halt the projects.

“People are immediately apprehended for contravention. Mangaung Metro law enforcement, together with the police, are cracking down on those responsible,” said Khedama.

“The city reiterates its open-door policy in engaging all stakeholders within the municipality.

“We want to bring it to the attention of those who are protesting that the city’s leadership is ready to listen to them to understand their plight and to assist within its powers.”

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