Cosatu fears job losses after protesters torch factories
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has activated its leadership to calm violent protest action in an industrial area of KwaZulu-Natal‚ amid concern that factories will shut down.
Factories and vehicles were targeted in a second day of protesting in Isithebe near Mandeni on Tuesday‚ with residents and factory workers fearing for their safety‚ according to Reaction Unit South Africa.
Posted by IPSS Rescue on Tuesday, 8 March 2016
The protesters attacked and burnt factories in the industrial area‚ the security service said.
Vehicles were also petrol-bombed‚ according to residents who supplied photographs of the damage caused in the protest action.
“Law enforcement were attacked by angry mobs who marched to the Nyoni Police Station and demanded the release of suspects arrested for public violence. These suspects were scheduled to make a court appearance today‚” the company said.
Schools and businesses have been shut for the day in Isithebe after overnight petrol-bombings and looting of factories‚ the North Coast Courier reported. Cosatu confirmed that students were unable to attend school due to the volatile situation.
Three different versions of why the protests were happening emerged from people on the ground‚ ranging from dissatisfaction with the newly appointed indunas‚ to service delivery and aggression over the possible return of former Mandeni mayor BL Magwaza to the area as ward councillor‚ according to the local newspaper.
The federation said its provincial leaders would meet its local structures today‚ to discuss the “interventions necessary to calm the situation”.
The union movement condemned the burning of factories‚ trucks and equipment.
“If this is not stopped with immediate effect‚ it will have a long term effect to workers‚ which may lead to some workers losing their employment‚” Cosatu cautioned in a statement.
Cosatu provincial secretary Edwin Mkhize asked employers to allow them time to try to resolve the dispute – and to mitigate the effect of the protest action on workers.
He expressed concern that some workers would not be able to get their payment this week‚ since most of the factories have closed down.
“It is also concerning that some companies are threatening to close and move out of the area which may leave many workers out of work.
“…We urge factory owners to bear with us in our attempt to resolve the problem. We will work hard to ensure that workers do not become casualties and victims of the circumstances. The federation calls on the people of Mandeni and surroundings to act responsibly in raising issues that concern them‚” said Mkhize.