Iscor to dismiss over 30 workers for casting their votes.

DATE: 04 May 2004




This week, ISCOR steel giant has issued letters to over 30 workers to face disciplinary action for absenting themselves to vote on the 14th April 2004. In terms of the disciplinary procedures of the company the conduct amounts to dismissal. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has written a letter to the company to refrain or face legal litigation because workers have a constitutional right to vote. That is a right of both historical and contemporaneous significance. This is all part of the company insanity and promoting unpatriotic policies. The company is consistent to dismiss workers as part of their ugly strategy. The hearing will take place next week on Tuesday 11/04/2004.

At the same time, the company announced a further retrenchment of 1000 workers as part of the restructuring drive. The retrenchments come on the heels of the LNM group chairman Mittal purchase of 75 million pounds house in London. This amount can employ 4 000 workers over a period of 20 years at a basic salary of R1900 per month. This also comes in the face of the Iscor Chief Executive Officer Louis Van Niekerk lavish salary of R8 million per annum. This salary alone can employ 350 workers per year.

The current retrenchments are mischievous if not outright ridiculous. This is parallel to the deteriorating employment situation. Employment has fallen from 44 000 in the 80’s to a marginal 18 000 in 1997 and now 12 000. Clearly, our members are bleeding and dying as a result of job losses in the company. This is part of the company disastrous “soak the workers” strategy. The union will definitely take action against such retrenchments. We believe ISCOR is dismissing all government initiatives to create jobs in the country and want to destroy the local economy.

ISCOR is exporting at the dollar price and made a killing on profits recently. The profits were only shared equally amongst board members. They slice the cake and eat it alone and now want workers to be sacrificial lambs. Therefore in the empirical analysis ISCOR stance on job losses should be seen for what it is , namely shortsighted, guided largely by its narrow sectional interest that is devoid of long term strategic vision for the growth and benefit of the entire industry and the country.

The acquisition by LNM holdings of 49.9% of Iscor capital, which is to be increased by 5,8% if the Competitions Commission gives it a nod will add to the woes of the steel industry. LNM would become the majority shareholder. The acquisition of this nature will lead to rationalisation and intra-firm pricing of steel and the ultimate closure of the Iscor company. There will be more centralisation and monopoly, consequently undermining the local content. Sadly, procurement will be externalised forcing Iscor to use cheaper inputs in the production process. The whole takeover will stifle growth and have disastrous consequences for jobs.

Few groups and families producing in the region of 100 tons could dominate the world markets. Currently Arcelor and LNM, the world largest steel makers already produce in excess of 40 million tons and have stated acquisition plans. With a steel output of about 7 million tons and a global market share of less than 1 percent, Iscor is really in danger.

For more information contact Dumisa Ntuli @ 689-1700 or cell 0829737282