Msunduzi municipality called for calm among union members as the municipal strike turned nasty in the provincial capital yesterday.
Strikers caused chaos in the city centre, turning over rubbish bins and throwing litter at passing cars.
Refuse lined Church Street, Pietermaritz Street, Langalibalele Street and Chief Albert Luthuli Street.
Strikers also assaulted and intimidated their non-striking counterparts at the AS Chetty building in Church Street yesterday morning.
Terrorised workers told the Daily News that their striking colleagues entered the water and electricity administration building and demanded that staff leave and join the strike.
It is alleged that when employees refused to leave, the strikers opened tear gas canisters and sprayed employees with pepper spray.
The building was then evacuated.
Other incidents reported in the city included striking workers shutting off a substation providing electricity to the lower end of the CBD. The power cut lasted for more than five hours.
Robots went unmanned, causing traffic gridlock in the city centre, and businesses were forced to close their doors.
A car in Church Street was also said to have been damaged as protesting municipal workers marched to the city hall.
The strike has had a significant impact on refuse collection, with refuse not being collected in several suburbs across the city.
Police spokeswoman Lieutenant Joey Jeevan confirmed there was some chaos in the city centre yesterday, but said police had been monitoring the situation and no arrests had been made.
Municipal spokesman Brian Zuma said Msunduzi condemned the trashing of the streets and the intimidation of workers reporting for duty.
“We are extremely disappointed and are appealing to the strikers to exercise restraint,” he said.
An incensed ratepayer told the Daily News that the actions of the strikers were “abominable”.
“They have no respect for their city and no respect for themselves. They should all be fired,” the ratepayer said.
In Port Shepstone, a small group of protesters peacefully demonstrated outside the Hibiscus Coast municipal offices yesterday.
Police temporarily closed off the street until the workers dispersed.
The streets of the city centre were lined with rubbish from overturned bins.