Police claim they opened fire on peaceful wage protesters at Denel Aeronautics on Atlas Road on Tuesday morning after the workers would not allow two trucks to enter the premises.
Ninety-five members of The South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) downed their tools after management only offered a four per cent salary increase and not the 15 per cent they demanded.
“Police intervened and fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the crowd,” Capt Jethro Mtshali, spokesperson for Kempton Parks SAPS, told Express.
One woman was injured during the altercation and taken to hospital.
“We urge anyone to open a case about this incident with police so we can further investigate these allegations,” Mtshali added.
When Express arrived on the scene at 10am, there was no longer a heavy police presence and protesters were singing peacefully. One sign read “Denel, you might not be killing us with an explosion, but we are dying of hunger”.
SATAWU leadership engaged in negotiations with Denel Aeronautics management. Workers at the company went on strike this morning following a deadlock in wage talks. pic.twitter.com/geEsBMbsp4— SATAWU Media (@SatawuMedia) September 18, 2018
According to employee Lucky Nekhandela (27), who led the protesters, the strike was legal. Workers included mechanics, technicians, planners and shippers.
“We cannot make ends meet. If this is how we are to carry on, the workers will starve.”
Aviation sector chairperson Tinyiko Mashele said the workers would not back down. “We want Denel to listen to us and give us what we deserve.”
Attempts to reach Denel for comment had so far been unsuccessful.