Petrol strike turns violent

Police say at least 50 people were arrested after violence broke out in Kempton Park.

FILE: The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) during strike in northern Johannesburg on 09 September 2013. Picture: Mbali Sibanyoni/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) is finalising legal papers to seek court intervention in a bid to stop violence and intimidation by some striking petrol attendants.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and other non-unionised workers went strike on Monday.

Striking workers are demanding a double digit wage hike.

Numsa is demanding a 12 percent increase for its members, which equates to a hike of R30 an hour.

Employers are offering 7 percent.

Earlier on Thursday, police confirmed more than 50 people were arrested in Kempton Park on Gauteng's East Rand for public violence.

Officers say demonstrators threw stones at them, damaging a police vehicle in the process.

Constable Tebogo Sesing said, "Police were monitoring the strikers in Kempton Park. While they were monitoring, Numsa people starting throwing stones at the police."

The RMI's Jakkie Olivier, who is negotiating on behalf of several employers, says violence by striking workers is increasing daily.

He says the organisation informed the union of its intention to lodge the application.

Olivier conceded the case could hinder the negotiations but was necessary to keep the peace.

At the same time, Numsa's Irvin Jim called for discipline among the strikers, saying non-Numsa members must not be allowed to stir up trouble which implicates the union.

"Our members must basically shy away and not allow their strike to be hijacked. That includes them not allowing themselves to be provoked."

Numsa rejected the latest revised offer of 7.5 percent.

Jim says negotiations with the employer will resume on Monday.

He says a proposed three-year period of neutrality will not be accepted.

"We will not agree that we must have a peace clause that basically gives them three years without workers being able to raise anything. We have however told them that we are willing to have a one-year agreement."

He says workers should not be put into a situation where they "can't raise a finger" if something goes wrong.

Olivier says employers remain committed to ending the strike.

"Strike action is not good for employers and not good for labour either," he said. "We remain committed and confident that we should be in a position to come to an agreement as soon as possible."