Open letter dated 11 October 2017

Please receive correspondence from Cosatu offices in relation to the violence at CEL Construction in Blackheath Western Cape.

We have just learned that there is an ongoing violent strike, for the last 5 weeks at CEL Construction by Amcu members, who are intimidating other workers to stay out, for organisational rights.

We support all workers to have the right to join unions and campaign for their demands, including Amcu. We are however bringing to the Ministers attention the horrific violence and intimidation that is taking place with this strike.

The workers had previously belonged to the National Union of Mineworkers, and many still do. But the Amcu or other sinister forces are targeting the workers with intimidation, violence and burning of their home to join AMCU and the strike. This has seen many workers being assaulted and 6 homes burned to the ground. While the matters were reported to the police and evidence provided, no action has been taken by the local Police at Mfuleni thus far.

This is how the violence at Marikana platinum belt started and we do not want to see a repeat here. It was too sad to see so many people suffering from a long strike and the deaths that followed, as there still is not the R12 000 promised.

Too many people make false promises and then cause even more hardships for people, when they do not deliver. We see that the company now is continuing with production, as new workers are brought from elsewhere, and the strike is not effective.

Cosatu will help the workers to find solutions that address their demands going forward, but this strike is not helping workers and is not close to winning after 5 weeks.

We support the right of workers to strike, but will not allow illegalities to take over, and violence to drive divisions amongst workers. We are calling on the Minister of Police to bring the criminals to book and if they are committing violence, intimidation, attempted murder and burning homes of people. And for them to get the maximum sentence of 20 years in jail.

There is more than enough evidence to arrest those carrying out criminal acts and the police must act to avoid a blood bath and more killings.

Should the Police not act to stop the violence by Thursday 12 October 2017, then Cosatu will be going to the strike picket to defend our members from assault. We will not let anyone assault our members and we will take the law into our own hands to defend Cosatu members and NUM members. We will not allow the kind of violence that we saw in Marikana, to go unpunished here in Cape Town against Cosatu members.

We ask for the urgent intervention of the Hawks and the Police, at the picket line, to resolve the violence. And Cosatu will if required, assist the workers to resolve the issues that these violent leaders have caused amongst workers. The Unity of workers is the only way in which a struggle can be won and these leaders have clearly divided the workers and weakened their ability to win demands from the company.

There are some leaders amongst the strikers who are getting money and feeding their families, while others workers must suffer for food and this cannot be the kind of leadership workers need. The companies exploit workers and we must organise to get a decent wage for workers, but we must have workers control and not some using violence to make them leaders.

Cosatu will assist to help all workers in any way that we can, so give us the information and we will pass it onto the Police to arrest those using violence. We will also call on ANC and Sanco structures in Happy Valley and Mfuleni to point out the criminals in the strike who are burning houses to the police.

An injury to one is an injury to all.

Signed by Tony Ehrenreich, Western Cape Provincial Secretary, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)