Safety of non-striking workers a concern

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BR NUMSA 0034

Reuters.

The National Union of Metalworkers striking workers march in central Johannesburg. The union wants a 12 percent salary increase, the scrapping of labour brokers, and a one-year bargaining agreement. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Durban - As the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) plans to intensify the strike in the engineering and metal sector, another union, Solidarity, has expressed concerns over the safety of its members who are not on strike.

Marius Croucamp, head of the metal and engineering sector at Solidarity, yesterday said his union had received reports of its members who were not on strike being threatened and, in some cases, assaulted by their striking counterparts.

“In Port Elizabeth we had a member who was severely injured after being assaulted with knobkieries by the striking workers. There are many other instances where there has been damage to property, including rocks being thrown at cars. There are a lot of these violent incidents,” he said.

“While we accept strikes are part of the bargaining process, violence is not part of the game.”

He added that the hot spots were mainly the industrial hubs in cities like Port Elizabeth, Pretoria and Johannesburg.

In Durban and Pinetown there have also been incidents of violence reported at some of the industrial hubs.

Croucamp urged Solidarity members and the public to report any acts of violence to the union, promising that it would regularly be in contact with employers and the police about these incidents to ensure its members were protected.

The strike enters its third week today, after Numsa at the weekend rejected the latest wage increase offer from the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa).

The union is demanding a 12 percent wage increase and a R1 000 housing subsidy, but the employer organisation had offered 10 percent for this year, 9.5 percent next year and 9 percent in 2016.

But this offer has since been withdrawn after a rejection by Numsa, with the employer now reverting to the previous offer of 10 percent this year and 9 percent next year and 2016 respectively.

Seifsa chief executive, Kaizer Nyatsumba, said yesterday no follow-up meetings were scheduled with Numsa.

“The current situation that we find ourselves in is very unfortunate and deeply regrettable. We are deeply concerned about the enormous damage wreaked on the economy by the strike, hence our determination last week to bring it to a speedy end.

“It is regrettable that our final offer intended to end the strike was not accepted, with the current industrial action continuing to damage our economy,” Nyatsumba said.

Numsa’s national strike committee met yesterday to map out a programme through which the union will intensify the strike. Numsa said the outcome of a full programme of action would be made public today. - The Daily News


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