Workers at Luxor Paints in Jet Park, Boksburg say they will not back down, despite the alleged violent attacks on them during protracted strike action at the plant.
In a statement released on Monday, worker representatives claimed one worker lost an eye and 19 others were hospitalised after being shot with rubber bullets by private security while on a peaceful protected strike.
The protected strike, which began on February 26, was called by the General Industrial Workers Union of South Africa (Giwusa) and supported by the Simunye Workers Forum. It concerned longstanding demands for medical aid, long service allowance and housing allowance and was attended by 200 workers.
Despite the strike being peaceful, Luxor Paints allegedly called in a private security company named the National Strike Intervention Union, said the statement.
“They wore camouflage uniforms, carried pump guns and had armoured vehicles, including a hippos and two guards carried knives,” said the statement. “At 9am, while the workers were standing and singing in front of Luxor Paints’ main entrance, without warning, they opened fire on a group of striking workers.”
On March 5, as the strike continued, private security shot at workers again — resulting in one worker losing an eye, the statement reads.
“After seeing one of our comrades lost his eye, we cried like babies while the company was just looking at us,” said Giwusa member Ndimphiwe Nozibele.
A representative speaking on behalf of Luxor Paints told the Mail & Guardian the strike has not been peaceful by their estimation.
“On the day in question, as with the days prior thereto, striking workers carried stones, sticks and other weapons and attacked several vehicles of Luxor Paints and its labour broker,” said Luxor Paint’s representative.
Luxor Paints said they had to engage additional security “to ensure the safety of its employees and hired labour”.
Luxor Paints said while the company acknowledges the rights of striking workers to demonstrate peacefully, it is not possible for it to continue to engage the union at present while it is held to ransom by “lawless employees”.