Concerns of violence in the metals and engineering industry strikes had prompted employers and Solidarity to write to national police commissioner Riah Phiyega, they said yesterday.

However, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) rejected these concerns as spurious accusations.

Talks to end the strike were set to start start on Wednesday afternoon.

The Steel and Engineering Federation of SA (Seifsa) said it condemned the violent behaviour of some employees on strike and called upon union leaders to rein in their errant members and urged the SA Police Services to act to keep order.

It said acts of violence had been reported across the country on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Gauteng being the most affected province.

Seifsa chief executive Kaizer Nyatsumba said he had twice written to Phiyega:

“We are extremely disappointed with the violent behaviour of some union members who have embarked on a wanton campaign of damaging properties, including vehicles, of some of our members in the Wadeville and Isando [East Rand] areas. This is what we wanted to avoid when we called on the unions to commit to the peace accord.”

Nyatsumba said the unions doggedly refused to sign the peace accord.

Solidarity said a member had been attacked by strikers at the Port Elizabeth car parts maker Autocast yesterday.

He had serious head injuries and was taken to hospital. The union had also written to Phiyega and requested immediate action.

Numsa said it condemned the spurious accusations being made by employers that its striking members were involved in acts of intimidation and vandalism.

“They are just a cheap ploy by the employers to undermine the integrity of our struggle for a living wage and improved conditions of employment.”

Food retail

There was no sweet victory when Jan the Toffee Man premium confectionery products were rejected by the Massmart’s supplier development programme.

The owner of the New Beginnings Toffees and Jan the Toffee Man, Jan Snyder, said the supplier development programme was flawed after it turned down his high-quality toffees and chocolate caramels. He believes that his product could compete with brands such as Lindt, Ferrero Rocher and Sally Williams nougat.

However, Massmart communications manager Annaleigh Vallie said the supplier development programme received numerous applications and not everyone could be accommodated.

Snyder said his products had been sold at small bakeries, delis and even events like the Good Food and Wine Show. “The people that I sell these products do their shopping at Makro and Game stores,” he said.

He was a big Makro customer and since 2005 had spent almost R1.5 million there, he added. The only thing he was asking of Massmart was an investment of R500 000 to bolster his home-based business which made at least R2m a year.

Snyder said that only after five months was he told to send samples of his products to Durban for evaluation. But his product was rejected with no consideration given to his personality, skills, background and vision for the business.

However, Vallie said the programme had made and recorded huge successes in plugging small and medium black-owned enterprises into Massmart’s supply chain.

The supplier development farm programme now operated in five provinces and last year delivered 800 tons of fresh produce to Massmart’s stores.

“We are proud of the achievements of the… programme and more so of the individuals who have built successful businesses on their own steam,” she said.

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Wiseman Khuzwayo and Nompumelelo Magwaza.