Pinetown Numsa march turns violent

Durban - A case of public violence will be opened for investigation after striking National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) members marched to businesses in Pinetown on Wednesday.

SAPS spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed a case was being investigated and said Pinetown police were sent to monitor the march.

A Numsa led march. File photo: Jeffrey Abrahams. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

About 100 Numsa members gathered on Westmead Road in Pinetown early on Wednesday before marching to various places to check if employees were working during the strike.

The strikers are demanding a 12 percent increase across the board, the scrapping of labour brokers and a R1 000 housing allowance.

Zwane said: “Three business premises as well as vehicles were damaged.

“No arrests were made.”

When the Daily News arrived, strikers wearing red Numsa T-shirts and carrying sticks were chanting and singing Struggle songs.

They gathered in front of the closed gate of a business on Suzuka Road, where they threw stones at the building, forced open the gate and demanded that the employer release non-striking workers.

The employer was forced to release two employees to join the march as it continued to other businesses.

When they arrived at Amalgamated Appliances near Suzuka Road, six police vehicles and private security companies were waiting to monitor the march.

One of the strikers, who did not want to be named, told the Daily News they were “looking for rats” – employees who worked during the strike.

He accused Amalgamated Appliances management of busing employees to work to continue with production.

“Employers are stubborn. No one is supposed to be at work now and they get temporary workers to continue with production. How is that helping us while we want the strike to impact negatively on their business?”

The striking workers declined to leave businesses without the employees working inside.

An Amalgamated Appliances manager, who asked that his name not be published, said that when the strikers refused to go away, they decided to let the workers go home.

About 15 workers left the premises and management said they were forced to close the business afterwards.

“Two union members, who claimed to be officials, came on to the premises and demanded to speak to workers inside.

“Workers declined to speak to them because they (non-striking workers) were not union members,” he said.

Numsa members gathered outside the company for about an hour until all workers were released.

“They (workers) were afraid and didn’t want to be seen by the union members. Instead of jeopardising work, we let our workers go.

“We are worried what impact this strike is going to have on production,” he said.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim, who was addressing workers in Durban on Tuesday, called for union members to make sure no “sellouts” went to work.

Numsa’s KZN regional secretary Mbuso Ngubane on Wednesday said “members were allowed to discourage those working during a strike”.

“Whoever is working is contributing to the delay of the strike,” said Ngubane, adding that workers who were not part of Numsa were supposed to join the strike.