Footwear unions call for suspension of alleged shooter
STRIKING unions in the footwear industry have called for the immediate suspension of a factory staff member who they alleged opened fire at protesting leather sector workers striking outside a Port Elizabeth factory yesterday.
The Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu) and the National Union of Leather Workers (Nulaw) said they would open criminal charges following yesterday’s incident. The unions have been on a nationwide strike since Monday after failed wage negotiations with the SA Footwear and Leather Industry Association.
The workers demanded a 9.5% increase, while the employers were only offering 6.25%.
Yesterday, Sactwu and Nulaw said they had written to the Bagshaw Footwear factory’s human resource department demanding the immediate suspension of the alleged shooter.
“These workers have been on a legally protected wage strike since Monday in pursuit of their living wage demands. Close to 10 000 footwear workers nationally have now joined the strike.”
The unions said they regarded the staff member’s alleged actions as illegal, provocative and not conducive to the promotion of sound industrial relations. “It has placed the lives of our members in serious danger. This type of disgusting conduct is not acceptable to us.
“We will not allow our striking members to be intimidated in this, or any other manner and will intensify our strike action.”
When the Cape Times contacted the factory’s management for a comment, a security guard who answered the telephone and identified himself as “Kenneth” said: “The factory has shut down today. There was a big strike (at the factory) and there is no one here.”
Sactwu general secretary Andre Kriel said: “We are pleased with the momentum… For all intents and purposes, the footwear manufacturing industry has now been completely shut down in the Western Cape and all other parts of the country”.