Samwu strike turns violent
Johannesburg – Two incidents of violence had been reported on the third day of a nationwide strike by the SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu), police and a union representative said on Wednesday.
By late on Wednesday morning, a group of protesting municipal workers were stoning cars at the municipality hall in central Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape police spokesperson Captain Johan Rheede said.
"Today, if there is any damage to property, we will make arrests... we won't tolerate this behaviour, it's not like yesterday (Tuesday) when they were just throwing papers in the streets," he said.
In Ekhuruhleni, Red Ants allegedly threw stones at striking workers, after protests at a municipal building, union spokesperson Tahir Sema said.
"The Red Ants arrived with stones, we have confirmed reports of this... they began stoning workers and that's when violence broke out.''
"This is very worrying because there was no need for the Red Ants to be called."
Workers were apparently stoned after a few bins were overturned.
Instigation of violence
"We see this as an instigation of violence... Samwu had marshals on the ground, we had all contingency matters in place, everything was under control."
Sema said that Samwu would be taking the matter further.
In Johannesburg, commuters who used council buses had to make alternative arrangements.
"Each region conducts their own protests and picketing, it's quite huge," Sema said.
On Tuesday a bid by the SA Local Government Association (Salga) to prohibit the industrial action was withdrawn in the Labour Court, with Salga ordered to carry the strikers' costs of opposing the application.
The strike was a bid by Samwu to resolve seven years of negotiations to make middle and lower income municipal workers' salaries market related.
The union said this would reduce the salaries of higher-ranking council employees who were overpaid, and would address corruption which had been given as a reason for service delivery protests.
The SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry was unhappy that a mass strike was called as the economy was picking itself up after a bruising recession, and ahead of the Soccer World Cup.
Read more on: strikes | johannesburg | port elizabeth | salga | samwu