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NHLANGANO – A factory shell was vandalised and more than two cars damaged when irate workers from Juries Manufacturing turned violent and took their anger to the streets of Nhlangano yesterday morning.

The about 1 600 workers reacted angrily to a rumour that management was planning to purge the staff of troublesome elements and expressed their frustration by taking to the streets, bringing the town to an abrupt halt.

At first the workers are alleged to have delegated shop stewards at about 7am to engage management in talks over entry arrangements at the factory but the discussion did not materialise as the workers became violent even before the meeting could begin.

Interviewed workers said the violence was triggered when the employees found the main gate to the factory locked when they reported for duty yesterday morning, as management was planning to make the workers enter in different groups. Soon word spread that the new entry arrangement was a plan to get rid of male employees of the company who management believe were sowing discontent among the staff.

A witness said when the workers were not satisfied with the communication from management, they ganged up and vandalised the factory structure.The situation worsened when  police officers tried to control the workers and fired teargas. This resulted in the procession going straight to the Nhlangano Police Station where the workers vented their anger and shouted at officers.

Senior personnel at the police station tried to reason with the workers but the defiant textile workers were not prepared to disperse anytime soon and the procession returned to the streets where they continued picketing uninterrupted.

The entire town centre was crowded by the angry workers, who were carrying sticks, tree branches and stones. Major roads leading to the town centre were blocked and the livid workers did not let motorists use the roads during their protest.

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