TO MAINTAIN PEACE AND ORDER: Uniformed and plain clothed police officers seen monitoring the situation at Juris Manufacturing.
POLICE had to be called yesterday when over 2 000 workers at Juris Manufacturing company in Nhlangano went wild and attacked their bosses, which saw one of them being rushed to hospital after he was stabbed with a sharp object.
The factory manager identified as Steven Westhuizein, was lucky to escape alive as the workers bayed for his blood.
In what at first started looked like a normal working day, the workers did the unthinkable just when they were preparing to start getting down to serious work at around 7:30am.
It all started when one of the male workers was called to the office where he was dismissed.
The employee was confused as he had not expected it and he allegedly reacted angrily, demanding explanations. It is claimed that in the heat of things, Steven, the factory manager, refused to entertain any questions as he had made a decision. It is said he decided to throw a cup of tea at the employee who wanted to know why his services were being terminated. The office then became a boxing ring as the employee insisted he was not going to leave until he was furnished with a proper explanation on why he was dismissed.
The employees heard about what had happened and all hell broke loose.
The workers decided to leave their workstations and wanted to see what was happening to their colleague. With other employees not at all prepared to listen to anything, drama unfolded at the factory as some of the employees reached for Steven and he was slapped, kicked and even punched all over the body.
As he was looking for a chance to flee he was stabbed with a sharp object believed to be screwdriver or a pair of scissors used by the employees when going about their work. There was a stampede when the employees had to find their way out as they feared something worse was likely to follow as word had started circulating there were moves to have the factory set alight.
The employees, even when outside the factory, ran amok and even a vehicle that was seen approaching from the distance said to be used by Steve, was turned back.
It had to be hidden in a nearby bush next to Crucifix where two occupants were found making calls, probably alerting relatives or the directors of what had transpired.
With the situation now out of control and employees chanting and dancing, police arrived armed to the teeth. Some were armed with riffles and others with sjamboks.
However, the employees were seemingly not at all ready to find themselves having to be pushed out by force as they remained by the gate, taking orders from their representatives.
A group of other workers confronted our news team demanding to be given the camera but others rebuked them warning the media was not supposed to be attacked as it was their ‘mouthpiece’ which they would use to make the world know about their challenges.
Police also came to the rescue of the media personnel.
Long serving Human Resources Manager of the company, Elmon Ndlovu, said he was not sure what actually sparked the violence.
He said it was resolved that the employees should return to work while all their issues were looked into.
“We agreed with their representatives that work should continue while all the grievances submitted are addressed using the right channels and platforms. We expect all of them back tomorrow (today),” said Ndlovu.
Ndlovu also confirmed that the factory manager was injured but he could not specifically say how he got injured other than stating it was during the skirmish that took place.
“Yes Steven, I heard he was injured and had to be rushed to hospital. He was fortunately treated and discharged. I was not able to see the nature of injuries he sustained,” said Ndlovu.
Others said Ndlovu himself was not spared when the workers attacked Steven as he was allegedly assaulted.
However, Ndlovu denied such claims saying he was not assaulted.
Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Khulani Mamba, confirmed that police had to rush to the company to monitor the situation during the riot.
He said he also heard that one of the managers was attacked and was injured.
“It is true there was riot at the said company but police were able to control the situation. So far no one has opened any case on what took place,” said Supt Mamba.
...Workers want factory manager, HR dismissed
THE over 2 000 workers accused the factory manager Steven Westhuizein of being a racist.
The workers alleged that Steven was the reason of the unrest that broke out yesterday where the company’s operations were brought to a standstill.
The workers alleged that Steven used vulgar language.
The workers said Steven must be fired as he was no longer in good terms with most of them because of the language he uses.
“He calls us with all sorts of names.
“Working with him is something we can no longer tolerate.
He has pushed us to a corner and we do not want to see him again here could be.
For a long time we have been stomaching the treatment he subjected us to. He does not treat us like human beings and this is the same style used by whites against blacks in SA,” alleged the workers.
They said a majority of them were casuals, which was one of the concerns that sparked the chaos. Others claimed they have worked for over five years but were still not full time employees.
Others said Steven’s style of management was questionable as he did not want to be advised on anything, including when reminded about the country‘s labour laws.
“You get fired anyhow here. At times, he fires 15 people a day. Even today, he wanted to fire some of the employees and it led to the chaos.
He does not respect the labour laws of the country. There is no guarantee that tomorrow you can still be around as your services could be terminated anytime,” alleged the workers.
The workers also want the human resources manager dismissed as they accused him of being a failure.
They also questioned the qualification of the incumbent HR, Elmon Ndlovu.