Homes of Gallo employees petrol-bombed

Kingdom Mabuza and Sibongile Mashaba

Kingdom Mabuza and Sibongile Mashaba

Gallo Records employees have hardly gone on strike in support of their suspended colleagues and the situation is already turning ugly.

Two Soweto homes belonging to members of Gallo management have been fire-bombed.

Thirty-one employees have been suspended by the company. They said their colleagues were planning to go on a sympathy strike in support.

Police confirmed yesterday that the petrol-bombed houses in Soweto belong to Gallo staffers. They said they were investigating the matter.

The houses in Dobsonville and Jabulani were petrol-bombed within less than 20 minutes of each other.

Worker representative, Richard Kobedi, said 31 workers had been suspended for refusing to work overtime.

"Our understanding of the law is that the company must negotiate overtime with workers. It is not compulsory for workers to give their labour for more than eight hours a shift," said Kobedi.

He said some workers were also suspended for showing solidarity with their suspended colleagues.

He said that unless management attends to their grievances workers would embark on a strike.

A formal strike had just been declared.

"It is barbaric," said a Gallo Records company manager who survived a petrol-bomb attack on his Soweto house with his wife and three children two nights ago.

The man and his family were asleep when a petrol bomb was hurled at their Dobsonville house at about 11pm on Tuesday.

His wife was treated for minor injuries.

He told Sowetan he did not wish to be named for fear of reprisals.

Also on Tuesday, another house in Jabulani which belongs to a colleague who is a supervisor, was torched at about 10.40pm. No one was hurt.

Damage to both houses is estimated at R70000.

Kobedi said workers who refused to work overtime were locked out of the company and given letters notifying them of a disciplinary hearing.

"Workers will not be intimidated and unless the company withdraws their suspension, workers will embark on a full-blown strike," he said.

Management and worker representatives were locked in a meeting yesterday. Attempts to get comment from management were unsuccessful.

"These were things that happened more than 20 years ago. We cannot have houses being petrol bombed in this time and age. It is totally unacceptable. Unions must control their members," said the manager.

Jabulani police spokesman Inspector Kay Makhubela said they were investigating a case of malicious damage to property.