PIETERMARITZBURG, July 10 – Police had to step in to ensure the smooth flow of traffic on Victoria Road in Pietermaritzburg as angry striking workers resorted to throwing eggs at those inside the Eddels Shoe factory premises on Tuesday.
The workers belong to the National Union of Leather and Allied Workers Union (Nulawu), an affiliate to the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa), and are part of a nationwide strike action demanding a 9,5% increase on salaries and an expansion of family responsibility leave. The employer, on the other hand, is offering 6,25% which has angered workers.
Fedusa secretary general Ashley Benjamin said the workers were battling to make ends meet as living costs continue to rise and stressed that they would continue with protest until their demands were met. The 6,25% offer from the employers, he added, was not enough as most of the workers were carrying the burden of simply financing transport and food costs with their earnings.
“If one just factors in the increases in VAT, fuel and food items, you can see that workers are battling such that they are basically financing going to work,” said Benjamin.
He added while they would continue with the strike action they were open to negotiation. A striking staff member spoke of the hardship in working at the factory.
“We work so hard here and yet when you look at what we take home, you realise that things are bad. Everything is rising, petrol, food and soon taxi fares will go up again, but we are not getting a fair increase,” said one protester. The striking staff members collected money and bought eggs at the nearby supermarket which they threw at those inside the factory premises.
Police spokesperson Captain Khosi Khonjelwayo said they would continue monitoring the situation, but added that there had not been any incidents of damage to property. (ANA)