In Johannesburg, piles of rotting rubbish mounted in the street on Wednesday (30 July) as city officials began fresh efforts to end a five-day-old strike which has spread to more than half the municipal work force.
GV Municipal workers arriving for mass meeting at Selby municipal compound in Johannesburg with police standing around
SV Workers at mass meeting
SV Spokesman addressing workers (2 shots)
GV Workers cheering and waving as decision to strike taken
SV PAN FROM Compound sign TO Crowds of workers leaving meeting place
SV PAN FROM Police with batons TO Workers leaving compound (2 shots)
CU ZOOM OUT FROM Gas mask TO Group with rifles and batons dressed in plain clothes.
SV Rubbish piled up outside shop
SV PAN FROM Rubbish in streets TO Municipal workers on strike
GV Large crowd of workers gathered at municipal compound next day
SV White official, city engineer, addressing crowd followed by translation in Afrikaans and crowd groan (2 shots)
SV Workers listening to speaker.
CU Another white official speaking to strikers and crowd booing
GV Armed riot police gathered outside compound (3 shots)
SV Rot police checking workers leaving gate
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Background: In Johannesburg, piles of rotting rubbish mounted in the street on Wednesday (30 July) as city officials began fresh efforts to end a five-day-old strike which has spread to more than half the municipal work force. The strikers are seeking pay increases and the right to be represented by a black trade union. Among the services affected by the strike are traffic, gas electricity and sanitary departments. There have been number of incidents during the strike, including the stoning of cars, which prompted South Africa's riot police to be on guard Monday (28 July) at a strikers rally in Johannesburg's Selby compound for blacks ...
SYNOPSIS: Some two-and-a-half thousand strikers crowed into Selby compound on Monday to stage a rally which was to decide whether their industrial action should continue.
The strikers listened to their officials. Their grievance is over pay. On July 1, they received an increase of two rand (2.5 U.S. dollars), which brought their weekly pay to 33 rand (41.25 U.S. dollars), but the strikers say that is not enough. They are demanding a minimum weekly wage of 58 rand (72.5 U.S. dollars).
The meeting decided to continue the strike, much to the delight of the workers. In the past the strikers repeatedly have demanded to be represented by a black trade union. Such black unions are a new phenomenon on South Africa. The first black unions were officially recognised in the motor industry after recent crippling stoppages over black workers rights.
Police kept a close eye on the strikers following earlier incidents when a group of workers hurled stones and bottles at motorists and pedestrians. One black traffic policeman was injured and several vehicles were damaged. In a related incident a bus inspector was stabbed when he attempted to take over a bus. Some 140 bus drivers are on strike, but white bus inspectors are helping to maintain a normal service on Johannesburg's black computer routes. One service which is still severely disputed is the city's rubbish collection service. Garbage is piling up, with no one to collect it.
Another rally gathered at Selby on Tuesday (29 July), the fourth day of the strike. City officials said at that stage the strike affected some 4 thousand five hundred workers in the traffic, gas, transport, cleaning, markets and electricity departments. It produced disruptions service enough for white city officials to try to persuade the strikers to go back to their jobs. But their attempts failed. This city engineer, and the speakers after him, were simply booed off by the strikers.
The positions in the strike are hardening. Workers are determined to carry on with their action until demands are met. Johannesburg City Council is looking for ways of breaking the strike.
South African papers reported that eighty rural workers had arrived to help man the Orlando power station, where the strike began. And the city council has asked for permission bring in another 400 replacement workers. Last week, the president of a black municipal workers union warned that bringing in replacement workers could bring friction with strikers. No such incidents have been reported but police are standing by.