Strike fails to ignite in Durban

THE KwaZulu-Natal municipal workers' strike has become a damp squib, with only a handful of members heeding the SA Municipal Workers Union's call to down tools.

THE KwaZulu-Natal municipal workers' strike has become a damp squib, with only a handful of members heeding the SA Municipal Workers Union's call to down tools.

In Durban's city centre, there was no major disruption, with fewer than 100 people turning up to protest.

Nhlanhla Nyandeni, Samwu's eThekwini secretary, said they were expecting their members to join the strike in large numbers today.

Nyandeni criticised police for trying to disperse them while they were "gathering" legally. Senior Superintendent Joyce Khuzwayo, the Durban Metro police spokesperson, said police had been deployed to ensure that those who were not on strike were not intimidated.

Cosatu reiterated its full support for Samwu's 130000 municipal workers who have been on strike since Monday.

Samwu said its members had waited for seven years to achieve proper salaries for all municipal workers, since they first concluded a Job Evaluation Agreement in 2003. Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said: "SA Local Government Association should stop being confrontational and sit down to negotiate seriously."

In Kimberley, several members of Samwu were arrested for public violence.

Northern Cape police spokesperson Constable Andrea Cloete said protesters had burned tyres at the city hall, where the march started before heading to the Salga office.

Cloete said protesters vandalised a power unit and threw bottles and rubbish at police. She said after the arrests the remaining protesters dispersed peacefully.

Earlier, a group of protesting municipal workers stoned cars at the municipal offices in central Port Elizabeth. Eastern Cape police spokesperson Captain Johan Rheede said: "If there is any damage to property, we will make arrests."

In Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg, the Red Ants allegedly threw stones at striking workers, union spokesperson Tahir Sema said.

"The Red Ants began stoning workers and that's when violence broke out.

"There was no need for the Red Ants to be called. Samwu had marshals on the ground. It was an instigation of violence . everything was under control."

In Johannesburg, commuters who use Metro buses had to use alternative transport.

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