The National Union Of Metalworkers Of South Africa ( NUMSA ) has noted with anger the article published in The Star Business Report with a heading ” Numsa won’t strike even if wage talks fail”. We want to clarify a comedy of tactical fallacies and misinformation in the article.
Firstly, the writer was either misinformed or deliberately seeks to distort the facts. The labour relations Act clear provide the right to strike if all dispute mechanism fail, this is a right that the union cannot compromise. The writer failed to understand the nature and scope of the pre-bargaining process agreement. The pre-bargaining process agreement only set parameters on how parties should conduct themselves and decides on principle issues for the actual negotiations. The structure does not take decisions on content. The content is only agreed in the actual negotiations.
Secondly, conflict within the collective bargaining arrangements is infinite. At its most basic level, it is coupled with disagreement on the nature of issues under negotiations. This results into conflict. We argue strongly that conflict is not undesirable and it is healthy for labour relations. The law also allows it. Conflict cannot “damage” relations but it is functional, since it prevents stagnation. Any conflict becomes dysfunctional only if it reaches destructive proportions. Unfortunately our conflict with Automobile employers has been balanced by level of cooperation and it has not been handled in such a way that it “damages”relations in a long run.
Thirdly, the collective bargaining wage negotiations with the Automobile sector (seven car manufacturing companies) will resume on the 23 March 2004 . The meeting on the 15 March 2004 is just an information sharing session. The meeting will only assist parties to consider certain socio-economic trends of the country.
Lastly, the article will instill an unjustifiable perception that workers abrogate their right to strike. History speaks for itself, the union remain strong and willing to strike if the need arises. Equally, we are unique because of our ability to engage and understand the dynamics of the industry. Puristically speaking, NUMSA has played, and continues to play, an important role in the collective bargaining process. Our organisational capacities have been enhanced and radically changed to suit the current environment.
For more information contact Dumisa Ntuli @ 689-1700 or cell 0829737282