RUN FOR IT: The fierce fight between the employees and police was joined by the security guards. (Pics: Starsky Mkhonta)
JURIS Manufacturing company in Nhlangano was yesterday turned into a battle field as police, combined with security guards, fought with over 2 000 employees.
Police had to fire warning shots and use teargas as workers went berserk and vandalised property, leaving a trail of yet un-quantified damage.
It was at around 7am yesterday when the employees reported for work as usual only to find management with armed police and security guards from VIP security firm by the gate.
When male employees tried to make their way into the factory, it was allegedly announced that only females would be allowed. Males were advised to wait outside.
Management said there were issues that needed to be resolved with the males.
Sniffer dogs were also found by the gate and it is believed these were brought as means of beefing up security. The dogs belonged to VIP security firm. This arrangement was probably influenced by last week’s incident where workers from the textile company ran amok and assaulted a manger before stabbing him.
Information gathered was that the males openly defied yesterday’s order to remain outside the premises and bullishly followed their female colleagues.
There was serious pushing and shoving before all hell broke loose. The female employees were not at all amused and they joined the fracas that ensued as males attempted to bulldoze their way inside the factory.
Inevitable, there was a stampede.
The workers resorted to violent means as the security guards and police employed force as they blocked the entrance.
The company’s buildings were vandalised with windows smashed by the angry workers who used all sorts of missiles.
The shattering of glass doors and windows saw some management team members running for their lives.
The company premises resembled a war zone as the workers and police exchanged missiles.
Police fired warning gun shots in the air, hoping to scare off the workers who were on the rampage.
Police found themselves left with no alternative but to use ‘minimum’ force to push the employees away after realising the workers were not ready to budge.
They fired teargas at the strong crowd of workers who ran helter skelter in all directions.
A thick cloud engulfed the area with some of the employees seen dashing towards the nearby forests as police were hot on their heels to ensure they keep a distance from the company premises.
The employees were however seen regrouping and the ‘war’ entered its second phase.
Stones, bricks and other objects were once again used by the workers.
Police mouthpiece Superintendent Khulani Mamba, confirmed that police had to use teargas to disperse the employees who had resorted to use violent means to communicate with their employer and vandalised property.
“Police were there to maintain peace and order. The employees decided to be violent and it was then that teargas was used to disperse them,” said Supt. Mamba.
Mamba said no injuries were reported and no one was arrested.
Elmon Ndlovu, who is the Human Resources Manager, who also had to duck missiles, said it all started when management suggested there should be control at the entrance gate.
He said it was decided that the employees should be allowed to come inside in groups so that even if there could be anyone with weapons and anything that could be a threat to the company’s security setup, it could be detected.
“Following last week’s mayhem, today (yesterday) it was decided that security measures should be tightened and we therefore decided to allow them to come inside in groups. It is not true that male employees were denied entrance. They were allowed inside but the employees decided against the arrangement and that was when the riot started,” said Ndlovu.
Ndlovu said all employees are expected to report for work on Thursday. He said today and tomorrow, management would be engaged in discussions with other stakeholders and employees’ representatives with the aim of finding a lasting solution.
“No one has been fired. From tomorrow (today) and Wednesday, we would be having discussions with the labour authorities and representatives of the employees,” said Ndlovu.
THE employees stormed the small town and literally took over as they roamed the streets before marching to the police station.
They demanded the release of some of their colleagues who had been taken in for questioning.
The workers disturbed the flow of traffic as they expressed displeasure as regards the detention of their colleagues.
With police seemingly aware of the pending danger if the employees remained detained, they released the three workers as they emerged and joined their colleagues.
They then took to the streets again, jumping and chanting. Police had to keep a close eye on them and were seen tailing them wherever they went.
Meanwhile, Shiselweni Regional Administrator Themba Masuku and the Regional Secretary Zwakele Dlamini had to rush to the company after hearing about the chaos which led to almost all the buildings vandalised.
The RA and RS had just finished being part of the launch of the national census programme at Ngwane Teacher’s Training College.
Elmon Ndlovu, the company’s Human Resources Manager, confirmed that both the RA and RS visited the company to assess the situation.