Riot police use stun grenades to disperse Parliamentary workers

Thulani Gqirana, Jenni Evans and Jenna Etheridge, News24

Parliament - Stun grenades were used to disperse around 200 striking parliamentary workers outside the National Council of Provinces on Wednesday morning.

A long line of riot police pushed their shields against singing and dancing workers on the steps and started removing them, warning them over a loud hailer to get out and leave the precinct.

Workers belonging to the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) tried to stand their ground, and chanted “we work here” as scuffles ensued.

The air was acrid with teargas as officers chased after people, and screams were could be heard.

News24 journalists on the scene said at least 12 stun grenades were thrown.

A man in a suit signed “time out” to the officers with his hands.

'Police must fall'

Workers, most in red Nehawu shirts, sang “Senzeni na" (What have we done?)

By 12:30, a large group had returned to the steps, chanting “Police must fall”.

Parliamentary staff - including committee secretaries, content advisers, cleaners and communication liaisons - downed tools on Friday. On Monday, they vowed to continue the strike until their demands were met.

The staff members, affiliated to Nehawu, were demanding a change in the performance bonus structure, among other things.

They want it to be based on annual packages, instead of 100% of the monthly salary agreed to earlier this year.

Other areas of concern include the security re-vetting staff, which has started in Parliament last month.

Parliament secretary Gengezi Mgidlana said on Tuesday they would implement a five-year-old interdict against striking workers, in a bid to force them to take their protest action outside the precinct.

This was so that proceedings at Parliament were not disrupted.