Johannesburg - A group of protesters from the National Union of Metalworkers SA (Numsa) clashed with police and members of a security company in Pinetown yesterday.
About 200 strikers were picketing outside a plastics company in Gillitts Road when they were involved in a skirmish with security guards.
Abel Phoswa, a Westmead area shop steward, said as the scuffle escalated police arrived and dispersed the crowd with tear gas.
Police spokesman Thulani Zwane said five people were arrested when they damaged a gate and a vehicle belonging to a security company.
The suspects were charged with public violence, contempt of court, common assault and malicious damage to property, he said.
The group later appeared before the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court and were released on a warning.
Meanwhile, the strike gripping the metal and engineering sector could spread to the other sectors of the industry.
Toyota SA announced yesterday that production at its Prospecton plant would be affected from today.
Company spokeswoman Mary Willemse said it had decided to suspend production of the IMV (Hilux and Fortuner) line from today. The production of the Quantum and truck (Hino/Dyna) would not be affected.
The union’s national strike committee was due to meet today to plot a detailed programme of action to intensify the strike, as it entered its third week.
Late last week the latest offer from employers was rejected by members of the union, leaving it with no option but to intensify its activities, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said.
Deputy general secretary Karl Cloete said upping the ante could include a rerun of the regional marches that took place at the beginning of this month in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
A second option, however, would be to extend the strike to “key and strategic companies” which are not in the engineering bargaining council but that do work with engineering companies, Cloete said.
These would include targeting auto-manufacturing companies, some of which have already reduced their hours of production due to shortages relating to parts.
Last week BMW said it would cut production at its Rosslyn plant due to the strike, and Cloete confirmed that General Motors had also put employees on short-time because it could not get parts.
Yesterday Jim led the union in talks with employers’ body, the Steel and Engineering Industry Federation of SA (Seifsa), in Joburg where he informed them that their offer had been rejected.
Meanwhile, the board of Seifsa continues to have full confidence in the chief executive of the federation, Kaizer Nyatsumba, its president Ufikile Khumalo said last night.
Speaking after an urgent board meeting in Joburg yesterday afternoon following a personal attack on Nyatsumba by Numsa’s leadership, Khumalo said Nyatsumba had done a great job of representing the federation on all matters, including on the deadlocked wage negotiations that began four months ago.