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Cape Town - Taking a leaf out of the naked protest book - usually the preserve of animal rights and anti-war activists - a disgruntled parking marshal in Cape Town stripped down to just his neckbrace and shoes to draw attention to his demands.
On Tuesday, Danny Delor-Ilunga walked around Castle Street brandishing nothing more than angry slogans directed at his employer, Street Parking Solutions (SPS).
Delor-Ilunga and several other parking marshals in the CBD have been in a protracted wage stand-off with SPS.
At one point, while his fully clothed colleagues and about five policemen looked on, Delor-Ilunga threw himself to the ground and stretched out his arms and legs.
But his naked rage was short-lived. The officers bundled him into the back of a police van. Nineteen other marshals were arrested too.
Marshals employed by SPS to charge motorists for on-street parking in the CBD have been on strike since Monday last week. They maintain that they are owed money by the company, due to a unilateral and illegal change in their contracts in 2009 which saw them unwittingly forfeit a 23.5 percent commission on their earnings for the company.
They have also alleged other illegal labour practices.
The company’s owner, Zunade Loghdey, has denied the allegations, pointing to a report by the Department of Labour which cleared him. The City of Cape Town, which contracted SPS to provide parking management in 2009, has asked the department to launch another investigation in light of the marshals’ complaints.
Despite numerous attempts to get comment, the Cape Argus has not received feedback from the department. The marshals maintain that they have not been approached for input from investigators.
After Delor-Ilunga was arrested, police announced over a loud-speaker that the marshals were participating in an illegal gathering and that they would be arrested if they did not disperse. The marshals peacefully handed themselves over and filed into waiting police vans.
Among those arrested was Ibaya Kasai, who has been organising and speaking on behalf of his colleagues since the strike began.
Kasai said that the intensification of Tuesday’s picket was in response to an SMS circulated among marshals the previous evening. The SMS, allegedly originating from SPS management, read that “work starts (Tuesday) at 7am” and that the police would be at the SPS offices to protect willing workers from the strikers.
“How could this be? There has been no agreement over our grievances with management,” Kasai said.
According to Kasai, about 20 people showed up for work. Yet, by mid-morning they were off the streets. Some of them were at the SPS offices, still dressed in their uniforms.
Loghdey refused to comment.
The arrested marshals are due to appear in Cape Town Magistrates Court on Wednesday.