Pretoria - Just three days into the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) strike in the metal and engineering industries, the Pretoria High Court has ordered union members in Johannesburg to stop intimidating those not taking part in the industrial action.
Johannesburg Scaffolding, a North Riding-based company, was granted an interim order after it approached the court on an urgent basis after its employees were threatened by Numsa members for not joining the strike.
Numsa-affiliated employees went on strike in the metal and engineering industries on Monday demanding a 12 percent salary increase and the banning of labour brokers.
In the affidavit submitted to the court, Johannesburg Scaffolding stated that on Tuesday morning about 100 workers dressed in Numsa T-shirts came to their premises and threatened to burn down their trucks if they continued working and did not join the strike.
The striking workers stood outside the premises for two hours brandishing knobkerries and sticks.
The company said it had a turnover of R450 000 a day and risked losing that if the strikers continued threatening its workers.
It said its employees were only responsible for the loading and unloading of material on trucks and not processing the metal, so they would not join the strike.
The union’s lawyer Lawrence Nowosenetz, who opposed the application, argued that the matter should have been heard in the labour court and not the high court.
“The union doesn’t even know about this event. It is astonishing that the company did not send a letter to the union’s legal department. This is a highly regulated union with a legal department. (It has) in excess of 200 000 members and cannot watch over them all at once.”
He said photographs of the incident that were provided to the court did not clearly identify the people as Numsa members, just that they were wearing red T-shirts.
Steven van Rensburg, on behalf of Johannesburg Scaffolding, said: “Our employees are not part of the industry and not part of the strike. All they do is load the steel into trucks that then transport it. They are employed through a labour broker who confirmed that none of the people are union members.”
Judge Winston Msimeki gave an interim order that bars striking workers from going within 300 metres of Johannesburg Scaffolding premises and intimidating workers.
“One can never take these things for granted, especially if there are threats. It is a common fact that people have lost their lives (during strikes).” He ordered that the company put up signs of the court order at their premises.
The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) yesterday released a statement condemning violence by some striking workers in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
Seifsa chief executive officer Kaizer Nyatsumba said: “We are extremely disappointed with the violent behaviour of some union members.” - Pretoria News