Excavator torched during strike
Cape Town - As employers and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) continue to seek a wage settlement, strikers in the civil engineering sector appear to be using increasingly destructive tactics.
Since early last week there have been incidents of workers being intimidated and beaten up, and transport vehicles being attacked.
In the latest attack on a civil engineering site, a group of men, believed by police to be associated with the strike, invaded a sand mine in Macassar early on Wednesday. The mine produces industrial sand used by Afrisam in cement production.
The men overpowered two security guards, assaulted them and torched three diggers and an excavator.
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said a case of arson was being investigated.
On Monday the owner and workers of a tiling company were attacked on their way to work
“Today we are still going to work, but we’re using normal cars so as not to attract attention,” said the owner, Alan Bissolati.
Responding to reports of builders being attacked by strikers, Rob Johnson of the Master Builders’ Association sought to clarify what he deemed to be “confusion” in the reporting of the strike.
He noted that only civil engineering workers who fell under NUM were on a national strike, adding that building workers had settled a wage increase of 7.5 percent in regional negotiations for the greater Cape Town area late last month.
Builders who fell under NUM had, however, rejected this settlement which was enforced by a majority of parties in the negotiations.
“When civil engineering NUM members went on strike, they co-opted disgruntled fellow members in the building sector. At the moment it is unclear which of these two groups are attacking builders. Yet it must be stressed that builders who are reporting for work are not in the civil engineering sector and are thus not undermining NUM’s national strike.”
On Wednesday police intercepted hundreds of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) members at Cape Town station.
As the Numsa members planned to descend on the Bree Street offices of Barry Cannings, the president of employer representative body the Retail Motor Industry, negotiators for employers and the unions were meeting in Johannesburg.
Numsa members went on strike on Monday after wage negotiations deadlocked.