Port Elizabeth – A person believed to be on strike from Transnet’s Ngqura container terminal, outside Port Elizabeth, has been arrested, the company said on Thursday.
“(The arrested worker has been) connected with the spate of bombings, arson, and thuggery targeted at Transnet employees who chose not to join the union’s industrial action,” Transnet spokesman Mboniso Sigonyela said in a statement.
Transnet claimed the arrested person was affiliated to the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).
Numsa members have been on strike for over six weeks at the terminal over transport allowances, working hours for particular tasks, and the use of labour brokers.
Police spokesman Warrant Officer Thembi Gwe confirmed an arrest had been made in connection with the strike, but could not immediately provide further details.
Numsa regional secretary Phumzile Nodongwe said he could not confirm whether the person arrested was a union member.
“We have not received any news as Numsa, we are only hearing about it in the media so it is very difficult to confirm.”
Sigonyela said the union represented less than half a percent of its staff.
Transnet had stepped up security around its workers, their families, and property after at least 35 acts of violence and intimidation, including arson, since the strike began.
Numsa national treasurer Mphumzi Maqungo said in a statement on Thursday that “not a single shred of evidence exists or shows that our members are responsible for acts of violence or intimidation”.
Rather, Numsa members had been highly disciplined in the face of provocation from a security company hired by Transnet, he said.
“…Our members fully understand the code of conduct of Numsa, since any worker or member seen acting outside the ambit of the law will face serious consequences internally in the union,” Maqungo said.
Sigonyela said Transnet had decided to extend its suspension of a lockout of striking workers for another 24 hours.
Initially the suspension was meant to last only 24 hours, from 6am Wednesday to 6am Thursday.
“The decision… followed pleas from a significant number of the just over 100 colleagues on strike for the company to allow them to abandon the industrial action,” Sigonyela said.
Maqungo dismissed this as “the worst form of Nazi-style propaganda”.
He said the striking workers remained united and were prepared to continue the strike until their demands were met.
“We call on the non-striking workers to unite, irrespective of their union T-shirts or logos, with the workers on strike,” he said.