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Publication Details

Reference
South African Protest News 7 - 13 September 2010 (2010) South African Protest News 7 - 13 September 2010.  : -.

Summary
SA protest news 2 -31 July 2010b>Does it take a death for trains to run on time?
In the pandemonium as people ran away one of the guards fired into the crowd. He hit a man. The man died.
Jacob Dlamini (Business Day) 9 September 2010

A COUPLE of weeks ago security guards employed by the Passenger Rail Agency of SA, the outfit responsible for commuter rail in the country, descended on Kwesine, one of the four train stations in Katlehong. The guards, armed with shotguns, batons and no- nonsense attitudes, were after free-riders — those who use trains without paying.

They targeted commuters going in and out of Kwesine via four holes cut in the fence on either side of the station. The holes were intended to help nonpaying passengers bypass the ticket office and the main entrance. But many of the so-called freeloaders were actually decent, law-abiding citizens who had long ago given up on paying for a service that was too erratic, unsafe and unreliable.

It costs about R10 and one train change each way for a return trip from Katlehong to Johannesburg’s Park Station.

By contrast, it costs about R14 and at least two taxis for a one-way trip to Johannesburg from Katlehong. But the savings commuters make by using commuter rail are nullified by the appalling service provided by the Passenger Rail Agency. Trains often stall in the middle of nowhere for no good reason; compartments are always full; schedules change with little or no explanation; and railway staff tend to be rude. What’s more, there’s hardly any security on the trains.

Railway commuters often buy weekly or monthly tickets. But these tickets are of fixed use and you cannot claim your money back. It does not matter how bad the service is. Not surprisingly, many who take the train to work or school — often having to be at a train station as early as 4am to allow for an unannounced change in the schedule — take their chances by not paying for a ticket that might be worthless. That way, they at least have some money for a taxi should the train not show up on time, or at all.

None of this background mattered to the security guards who descended on Kwesine train station. They came out in full force, determined to prove a point. They came out guns blazing. In the pandemonium that ensued as people ran away — many towards the holes in the fence — one of the guards fired into the crowd. He hit a man. The man died. It turned out the dead man had a ticket. He had decided to run for it when he saw others running. He had no reason to flee. But, not trusting the gung-ho guards, he had decided to make himself scarce.

The shooting angered the scattering passengers and instead of running further away, they turned back in anger. They started pelting the guards with stones. The guards retreated. The incensed crowds attacked the ticket office and torched the station manager’s new car. Train services to Kwesine were stopped for the day, but that did not make much of a difference to the thousands long used to bad service. The violence subsided as quickly as it had started.

Here is the remarkable thing. For weeks after the incident, the train service to Katlehong ran on time and according to the schedule. According to a cousin who witnessed the shooting and the violence that followed, it was the strangest thing to have a reliable rail service. Stranger still was that an innocent man had to die for the Passenger Rail Agency to get its act together. A man had to lose his life for commuters to experience the convenience of an efficient rail service.

It would be easy to put this sad episode down to an unfortunate accident. To do that, however, would be to miss the point. The thing to understand about the security guards and their modus operandi is that this was part of a pattern of episodic and spectacular displays of power. The Passenger Rail Agency is a corporatised but state-controlled entity. Its sole mandate is to provide a decent train service — but it can hardly do that, let alone get its trains to run on time. Also, it cannot provide adequate security on its trains. So it tries to make up for this tragic deficit of competency and safety via random and spectacular displays of bureaucratic machismo.

The security guard who killed an innocent man was not a bad apple who just happened to be trigger happy. He was part of an official culture in which spectacle makes up for incompetence, bluster has become a substitute for public service and decency long ago gave way to disregard for life.

This spectacular and episodic display of power is not confined to commuter rail. You see it also in the random road blocks by the metro police that do nothing except broadcast the ability of law enforcement agencies to, well, set up road blocks.

This is nothing but a tired spectacle whose audience has become its victims.

- Dlamini is author of Native Nostalgia (Jacana 2009)


Residents block development
Eyewitness News 6 September 2010

Some Khayelitsha residents on Monday said there would be no housing development in their community if they were not properly consulted.

Community members in Mandela Park have blocked the construction of houses in the area for nearly two weeks.

They are demanding that 50 percent of all homes built in the area should be allocated to people .

They have called on Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela to launch an independent probe into the allocation of some government houses in the area.

Community leader Luyolo Mfuku said the MEC has been ignoring them.

“They are building 100 units for people coming from outside of Mandela Park. This is after several complaints or protests that we have been doing in Mandela Park trying to get the Minister’s attention to actually hear our cries as well,” he said.

Madikizela has dismissed the claims and said he has other priorities too.

“People from Mandela Park must understand that I’m not the MEC of Mandela Park only. I have a number of other areas that I am dealing with that are facing similar challenges, even more. And I must say that we have been engaging with the people of Mandela Park regularly,” he added.

Eyewitness News


Students' residences protest continues
Khulekani Mazibuko (Sowetan) 8 September 2010

Protest rock video:

STUDENT protests against plans by the University of KwaZulu‑Natal's
Westville campus to privatise residences continued for the second day
yesterday ‑ disrupting lectures and trial examinations yet again

Students representative council president Mndeni Mkhize said: "All the
campuses including Edgewood, Howard College and Pietermaritzburg are
planning to join the protest today.

"The university council sits this month, and we want them to be aware we
aren't happy with the new arrangement."

He said instead of privatising residences, the university should be
building more residential places within the institution for students who
live off campus.

The university's management has insisted there were no plans to
privatise residences and blamed the students' protest on a misunderstanding.

"The misunderstanding has arisen from a proposal tabled at the
university's finance committee meeting in mid‑August.

"The university said they were not looking at privatising residences but
interested in making more beds available for students within campus,"
said executive director Nomonde Mbadi.


UKZN students continue with strike
Thrishni Subramoney 8 September 2010

Management at UKZN says it is deeply concerned by an apparent failure in
communication between student bodies at the varsity's Westville campus ‑
which it believes is at the root of two days of campus protests.

Hundreds of students marched on Westville campus on Monday and
yesterday, disrupting a number of lectures.

Students claimed they were unhappy about alleged plans by UKZN to
privatise its residences.

But UKZN's Nomonde Mbadi says the story is completely untrue and that
the varsity sub‑committee actually turned down a proposal to form a
housing company to run accommodation some time ago.

She says the SRC is well aware of the fact that there is no plan to
privatise residences but repeated attempts by management to contact
student leaders to clarify the issue have failed.

She says management now believes the SRC, which is supposed to represent
all students, isn't calling the shots.

"The SRC does not seem to be leading the strike. It is the political
organisations that are leading the strike. There was a very extensive
meeting which unfortunately turned very ugly because they started
arguing among each other; so there seems to be a very serious problem
between the ANC Youth League, Sasco and the SRC."

The SRC could not be reached for comment but Sasco's Sandile Phakathi
insists that a privatisation plan is on the cards for UKZN.

Phakathi told Newswatch that the SRC initially did not understand the
issue, but has joined the strike after holding talks with Sasco.


Union rejects auto industry offer
Business Report 8 September 2010

South Africa's metalworkers union on Wednesday rejected a 10 percent wage increase offer from the auto industry and called on its members to continue striking until a settlement was reached.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) said in an e-mailed statement the offer did not guarantee every worker in the auto industry an increase.

"The revised offer is now 10 percent and we believe that this offer is largely influenced by the ongoing industrial actions mounted by our members across the country. However as NUMSA we have not accepted the offer," the union said.

"We call on our members not to be defocused or confused by the latest developments, but continue with their industrial actions until a final settlement is reached," it said.

The week-long strike by 70 000 workers initially seeking a 20 percent wage hike has affected petrol stations, garages and auto dealerships.

South African automobile manufacturers and a union representing thousands of auto workers reached a deal on wages last month, ending a costly eight-day strike that cut production by 17 000 vehicles. - Reuters
www.busrep.co.za


NUMSA STATEMENT ON THE REVISED WAGE OFFER BY MOTOR EMPLOYERS
NUMSA 8 September 2010

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has been engaged in negotiations with the motor employers, namely Retailers Motor Industry (RMI) and Fuel Retailers Association (FRA) under the auspices and watchful eye of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to find a lasting settlement on the ongoing wage dispute.

The negotiations resumed on Monday 07 September 2010, and a new and revised offer was presented by the employer for consideration by NUMSA. The revised offer is now 10% and we believe that this offer is largely influenced by the ongoing industrial actions mounted by our members across the country. However as NUMSA we have not accepted the offer due to the following principled reasons;

· The revised offer does not accommodate all the employees in the motor sector in terms of a personal guaranteed increase;

· The employer is misleading the public by painting a high percentage increase, when it does not guarantee every worker in the industry an increase; and

· The offer made by the employer must attend to back-dating of the increase and ensure that we create decent work for all workers in accordance with the constitutional imperatives related to social justice.

NUMSA is extremely disturbed that the employers have rushed to the media to spew and prematurely announce the offer without NUMSA being afforded an opportunity to table this new and revised offer to its members. This we regard as totally unacceptable and might create confusion in the public and to our members.

We want to condemn this ‘golf-course’ style announcement of the revised offer by the employers. We call on our members not to be defocused or confused by the latest developments, but continue with their industrial actions until a final settlement is reached.

Contact:
Castro Ngobese
National Spokesperson – 073 299 1595


Northam strike likely to go on for months
NUM 8 September 2010

A strike by over 8000 workers at Northam Platinum has today entered its third day with no resolution in sight. The workers, who brought Northam Platinum to a grind demand that the company should increase their wages by 15% as well as offer them a living out allowance of R3500 per month. Northam Platinum, which claims to be losing R1 million per day has not as yet improved its offer of 8% on a two year deal. “There has not been any talks to resolve the impasse, and it is likely that this strike action will take many months to resolve” says Zwelitsha Tantsi, the NUM‘s Chief Negotiator at Northam. Meanwhile, the 8000 workers are determined to bring Northam to its knees if the company refuses to improve its offer. “There is no turning back now or any time soon. It is going to be months and months of strike action” says Tantsi.

Zwelitsha Tantsi- 082 941 4210
Lesiba Seshoka
National Union of Mineworkers (NUM)
7 Rissik Street ,JOHANNESBURG
Tel: (011) 377 2047
Mobile: 082 803 6719


Unions 'suspend' public-sector strike
Mail & Guardian 7 September 2010

South African public sector workers suspended a pay strike on Monday as it entered its fourth week, union officials said.

The strike by 1,3-million workers has affected education, healthcare and the judiciary. Strikers have demanded a double inflation 8,6% pay rise and a R1 000 a month housing allowance.

"Labour has decided to suspend the strike and this does not mean we have accepted the state offer," 19 unions representing the state workers said in a joint statement.

The unions said they had 21 days to finalise discussions with their members on a draft agreement.

President Jacob Zuma's government raised its offer to 7,5% and R800 for the housing allowance last week but workers rejected the deal and unions asked for more time to explain the offer to their members.

Government officials said the state could not afford the offer they had already put on the table and there was no more room in the budget to increase the offer, which would swell state spending by about 1%.

The biggest strike since 2007 in terms of lost man days has left bonds, stocks and the rand largely unaffected, but market players said the strike would cap gains by the rand and could have a bigger impact if it drags on.

Economists predict that the labour action is costing the economy about R1-billion a day.

'Welcome development
Public Administration Minister Richard Baloyi welcomed the news.

"The return to work is a welcome development for the public service and the country in general," said Baloyi in a statement.

"We urge those who are returning to the workplace to ensure that we deliver the services that are so sorely needed by all communities across our country."

Political parties also weighed in with their reaction to the news of the strike suspension.

"We believe this is a step in the right direction in ensuring stability and normality in our public sector offerings, particular[ly] around education and health services," ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said in a statement.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) criticised the increased pay offer and the strike itself.

"In playing for time to serve their own political agenda, the unions have demonstrated a serious misunderstanding of the far-reaching economic consequences of this strike," said DA chief whip Ian Davidson in a statement.

He called the government budget "over-burdened and over-extended" and said the increased wages would result in cuts to services.

"The increased government wage bill effectively means government has fewer funds to hire more people and roll out crucial services to the greater populace," said Davidson. - Reuters,



COSATU condemns violence
Cosatu 8 September 2010

While unswerving in its support for the public-sector strike, the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions has consistently condemned all acts of violence and lawlessness which have been committed by a minority of both sides.

The federation deplores in particular the attack on a Johannesburg nurse which left her seriously injured. We apologise to her and send her best wishes for a full recovery.

COSATU has always prided itself on its members’ high levels of discipline in strikes and demonstrations. They have been militant and angry, but also peaceful, lawful and orderly. This has been the case with the overwhelming majority of the activities during this public sector strike.

COSATU will not however tolerate or condone any violent or threatening behaviour, which, as our affiliate DENOSA has said, is a “foreign trend which has no place in the working class struggle”. It undermines the widespread public support for the striking workers, which has been overwhelmingly positive, but is threatened by the irresponsible actions of a small minority.

COSATU unions will never stop fighting for higher wages and better working conditions for its members, and struggling to advance the national democratic revolution. But we shall always insist that this should be carried out in a way that wins the support of the big majority of South Africans and rallies them behind the workers’ struggle.

Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
1-5 Leyds Cnr Biccard Streets
Braamfontein, 2017
P.O. Box 1019
Johannesburg, 2000
SOUTH AFRICA
Tel: +27 11 339-4911/24
Fax: +27 11 339-5080/6940/ 086 603 9667
Cell: 0828217456
patrick@cosatu.org.za


Unions mull new wage offer
Mail & Guardian 7 September 2010

Public service unions were expected to announce on Monday if a new wage offer had been accepted which would end a national strike that started 20 days ago.

"The provisional planning is that the announcement will take place at 4pm," said Independent Labour Caucus (ILC) chairperson Chris Klopper.

Asked if it would be good news, he replied: "It would be news", but when pressed further, Klopper said: "Yes, I think it is [good news]."

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) spokesperson Patrick Craven said most of the public service trade unions had completed the balloting process, except for the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu).

Craven would not be drawn into commenting on the decision by the other unions.

He said Cosatu would confirm during the course of the morning whether it would be ready to make an announcement at 4pm.

The government last week revised its offer to a 7,5% salary increase and R800 housing allowances, while public servants embarked on strike action to demand 8,6% and a R1 000 housing allowance.

During the past 20 days, since the strike started on August 18, several protesters were arrested for public violence.

Two non-striking nurses were attacked and seriously injured in the past week by their striking colleagues.

State hospitals were crippled with several news reports claiming patients had died as a direct result of the strike

Schools were also affected and several provinces postponed preliminary matric exams as many non-striking teachers were intimidated into staying at home. - Sapa
www.mg.co.za


NUMSA MEMBERS TO MARCH IN POLOKWANE FOR A LIVING WAGE & SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOODS!
Numsa 5 September 2010

The NATIONAL UNION OF METALWORKERS OF SOUTH AFRICA (NUMSA) representing 70, 000 workers working in garages, components, workshops and automotives sectors will be marching tomorrow Monday 06 September 2010, Polokwane, Limpopo province. The march will be to exert pressure to the captains of the motor industry to accede to workers demands for improved conditions of employment and decent wages.

The march will be led by NUMSA Treasurer Cde PHILLEMON SHIBURI and Regional Secretary Cde MENCHI MOTSEPE.

A throng of 5,000 workers will converge outside SABC offices, Polokwane, tomorrow morning to march through the streets of Polokwane to hand-over a Memorandum of Demands to Retailers Motor Industry (RMI), Fuel Retailers Association (FRA).

The details of the march are as follows:

DATE: Monday 06 September 2010
TIME: 10H00am
VENUE: SABC Polokwane Offices, Polokwane

Members of the media are hereby invited to attend and report.

Contact:
Castro Ngobese
National Spokesperson – 073 299 1595


COSATU North West and Sun International (Sun City)
Cosatu 7 September 2010

The Congress of South African Trade Unions, and its affiliates SACCAWU and SATAWU organizers at Sun City world want to warn the management of Sun City and Sun International directors regarding the unfair labour practice, which include threats, intimidation and victimization of workers who participated in a legal wage dispute strike held in December 2009.

COSATU in the province is highly disappointed that workers who participated in the strike on 3 December 2009 are now being charged with misconduct under a so-called code of conduct known only to the employer.

The Sun City management with its legal advisers known the law better than the working class, workers went on legal strike on 3 December 2009 until now September 2010 almost nine months down the line you want to charge all workers.

Sun City and Sun International must be told that we are aware that this charging of workers is on the basis that workers at Sun City are able to expose racism and super-exploitation, which is continuing, led by Falcon and 24 / 7 Security companies and that workers have demanded that all those racist companies must go out of Sun City.

The COSATU campaign on racism is still on. The demand regarding Sun City racist companies such as Falcon and 24/7 still remains.

Labour brokers and other companies such as Prestige are undermining the workers on instruction from Sun International

COSATU demands that before the scheduled meeting with Sun International for the 8 September 2010. All those charges must be withdrawn.

COSATU will not be in a meeting with Sun International whiles workers are being charged and being dismissed.

Our meeting will only proceed once the charges are withdrawn and the campaign against racism is being intensified against Falcon and 24/7 Security company.

All SACCAWU members are advised not to take part in any hearing until COSATU advice on the way forward.

All members of COSATU at Sun City are busy being mobilise to intensify the campaign against racism, for banning labour brokers and exposing super-exploiters.

There will be no meeting with Sun International until charges against the members are withdrawn.

For more information feel free to call COSATU North West Provincial Secretary Comrade Solly Nani Phetoe on 082 304 4055

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