As a nationwide strike by metal workers in South Africa entered its fourthday on Thursday there were reports of violence in industrial areas east of Johannesburg.
Talk Radio 702 in Johannesburg reported that striking National Union of Metal Workers ofSouth Africa (NUMSA) workers were damaging cars in Germiston on the East Rand.
South African police warned that protests in that area have been particularly violent. The radiostation said there have been widespread reports of intimidation and violence during theindustrial action by metalworkers.
However, NUMSA has in turn accused police of using excessive force.
South African police spokesman Vishnu Naidoo said they were not heavy-handed.
“While we firmly believe that striking workers have a right to vent their grievances andfrustrations, they have to do it in a peaceful manner. The police are deployed there to ensurethese strike actions are undertaken peacefully,” said Naidoo.
NUMSA said no talks are currently scheduled with employers to end the strike. The union isstanding firm on its demand of a 13 percent wage increase while employers are offering sevenpercent. South Africa’s consumer price inflation rate for May was 4.6 percent year on year.
NUMSA’s Castro Ngobese said the union is prepared to go to back to the negotiations table”but the arrogance from the employers is not helping the situation”.
Factory owners in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg, said they have had to close up shop againdue to intimidation by striking NUMSA workers.
A factory owner in the area, who asked to remain anonymous, said they have had to send theirstaff home again.
“They have threatened our staff. They said if they work, they will beat them. Some of my staffwas beaten yesterday. It is just a mob mentality that they have, they have shut the whole ofBoksburg down,” he said.
NUMSA’s has given employers until the end of Thursday to respond to their 13 percent wageincrease demand and warned it would then call for the strike to be widened to other sectors.