Workers from the National Union of Metalworkers of SA. File photo: Mogomotsi Magome.

Johannesburg - Trade union Numsa on Tuesday denied Transnet's claims that a strike at the Ngqura container terminal in the Eastern Cape turned violent.

“In terms of the violence, we are not aware of the incidents they are talking about,” National Union of Metalworkers of SA regional secretary Phumzile Nodongwe said.

“All we know are that our members are picketing in the demarcated area.”

Transnet's Eastern Cape terminals general manager Siyabulela Mhlaluka condemned the “violence, thuggery and intimidation” it said occurred during the no-work-no-pay strike by Numsa members since last Friday.

“Houses and properties belonging to our colleagues who have chosen not to take part in the action have been petrol-bombed, stoned, vandalised and burnt in a series of criminal incidents.”

Mhlaluka said that protesters had now been locked out since Monday and security had been heightened.

“In addition, Transnet has committed a R100,000 reward for information that may lead to the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators.”

Mhlaluka said about 80 percent of its workforce was affiliated to other unions and these workers continued with their duties.

A total of 124 employees out of 500 at the terminal belonged to Numsa and the union did not have official recognition at the parastatal.

Nodongwe said the strikers were protesting about a differentiation between transport allowances at the Ngquru terminal and at Port Elizabeth.

Members were unhappy about recently increased hours for crane operators.

He said workers were concerned that working the cranes for more than three hours without a break made them “dizzy” and thus made the work “dangerous”.

Transnet regional corporate affairs manager Wandisa Vazi said five truck drivers affiliated to Numsa were protesting.

She said since December all truck drivers were expected to work for five hours and then take a break.

These were standard hours across Transnet operations, although more recently introduced at the Ngquru container terminal.

In a statement, Transnet said the use of labour brokers was another grievance.

The terminal is about 20km north-east of Port Elizabeth. - Sapa