Thu, 04 Jun 2020

A video circulating on social media video shows Dis-Chem workers clashing with police in the Canal Walk mall in Cape Town on Wednesday.

In the video, police can be seen driving scores of protesters back, while objects are thrown at the authorities.

Scuffles ensue and police appear to make a number of arrests.

Police confirmed on Thursday that four men - aged 31, 34, 36 and 41 - had been arrested.

"They will be charged for contravening the regulation of a court interdict and with public violence, malicious damage to property and assault," Captain FC van Wyk told News24.

They would appear in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court once charged, Van Wyk added.

This follows an incident last week when a man who fired a paintball gun at strikers in Sea Point was beaten. He was rescued when police officers intervened, News24 reported.

GroundUp reported that the workers had been barred from protesting outside the mall by the Labour Court on November 16.

The Western Cape manager of the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw), Omar Parker, said that police had scuffled with demonstrators who insisted on protesting in front of the shop.

"Employees have been without salary since November 16 and have lost hope. We have asked our members to remain calm, but they are desperate. We are appealing to the employer to normalise the situation. Workers who are currently on duty are being given incentives and [are] mocking the ones on strike. The employer is dividing the workers," he said.

Western Cape organiser for the union, Vuyani Shwane, told GroundUp that the workers were demanding that Dis-Chem recognise Nupsaw, but the company says the union does not meet the 30% threshold.

Barred from picketing and protesting

In a press statement, Dis-Chem said it respected the right to strike, but that violence and intimidation had left them no choice but to approach the courts.

"In an historic first, the Labour Court has ruled that the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw) is barred from picketing and protest action until 27 February 2019, while upholding the union's right to strike," the statement said.

"We respect our employees' right to strike. However, the ongoing violence and intimidation used by Nupsaw and its members to pursue their demands against Dis-Chem left us no choice but to seek relief from the Labour Court," said Dis-Chem spokesperson Caryn Barker.

Dis-Chem said Nupsaw attempted to attach other conditions to the process, including bargaining rights, to which they were not entitled due to their lack of representation. The union represents 13% of workers.

The court also ruled that political parties had no role to play in labour relations, after the union invited support from parties, including the Economic Freedom Fighters.

In November, News24 reported that police had used rubber bullets to disperse 2 000 people at Dis-Chem's Gauteng offices.

Workers were demanding a minimum salaries of R12 500.

Follow @Duncan025

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