Numsa urged to restrain members

Numsa's strike has been characterised by violence and intimidation of non-striking workers and factory owners.

Around 200,000 Numsa-affiliated members downed tools on 1 July. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Solidarity has urged the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) to call its members to order following reports of violence and intimidation in factories around Gauteng.

Factories in industrial areas look set to remain closed for business tomorrow and the police have promised to maintain a strong presence in industrial areas, specifically on the East Rand, where there have been several reports of violence and intimidation.

Owners say they are terrified to reopen their businesses after a number of factory owners and non-striking workers were assaulted last week and millions worth of computers, office equipment and other belongings were damaged and stolen.

Gideon du Plessis, General Secretary of Solidarity, says Numsa should restrain its members.

"We plead with Numsa to start showing leadership. They have proven that they can be a populist union and must now prove that they can be a highly ethical union and must rather settle sooner rather than later to save them the embarrassment and prevent them from destroying the economy even further."

A heavily pregnant woman was one of several people assaulted.

Around 200,000 workers downed tools in the metals and engineering sector on Tuesday.

The union is demanding a 12% wage increase, a R1,000 housing allowance, career and training opportunities for all workers and the banning of labour broking and has vowed to cripple the metal and automotive industries if their demands are not met.

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa) offered the union a three-year wage deal of between 8% and 10% but this offer was rejected on Thursday night.

The employer body says many employers represented by the federation had reported "serious incidents of violence" by strikers, including damage to property and assaults on those reporting for work.

#NumsaStrike This factory owner was assaulted inside his business premises yesterday. @Ngobeni007 reporting

#NumsaStrike This factory owner was severely assaulted. @Ngobeni007 reporting

GRAPHIC #NumsaStrike This factory owner declined to be identified fearing further victimisation. @Ngobeni007 reporting

One man says he was assaulted even though he isn't in the metals and engineering industry.

"I am in the plastics recycling industry; I have nothing to do with metal. Me and five of my staff were inside and they came in and beat me with an iron rod and knobkerrie and were throwing broken pieces of brick at me."

He says he won't reopen his factory until he can ensure the safety of his employees.

Numsa's wage strike has dealt a further blow to an economy damaged by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu)'s crippling work stoppage in the platinum industry that only ended on 23 June.

The strike action is expected to cost the economy over R280 million a day in lost output.

Credit ratings agency Moody's said this week the labour unrest would consign South Africa to a third consecutive year of sub-par growth and posed risks for its rating.