21 000 car workers remain mobilised to reject 6% wage offer.

DATE: 17 June 2004

Johannesburg Press release – for immediate release


After two days of intense wage negotiations, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the Automobile Manufacturers Employers Organisation (AMEO) failed to agree. The employer organization increased the wage offer to 6% across the board. When the union rejected the miserable 6% wage offer and opted to declare a dispute, the facilitator intervened and requested the parties to meet again on the 24th June 2004. The union has revised its wage demand to 9% across the board.

AMEO demonstrated a contemptuous attitude in the talks. We are now reaching Armageddon in terms of achieving a better wage increase. Our 21 000 members remain discharged to fight because the extra concession of 6% is really not enough, it will definitely increase the tempers of workers. The sad situation in the car industry is that with all the price fixing, increased labour productivity, and whooping salaries of directors, increased profits and surging sales of cars, workers are not remunerated enough. Workers are not surprised that the 6% will be the last offer. It is this 6% offer that will trigger a strike. Workers are incensed and the situation in all companies remains volatile. They are just waiting in desperation for the end of the current agreement at the end of the month. Workers know very clear that there is nothing they can achieve without a strike. They do not recall in all the wage talks with AMEO reaching an agreement without a strike. A strike in the car industry is part of the wage trend and putting sense to employers that workers deserve the share of the cake.

Automobile workers are producing world-class cars but are not remunerated equivalent to what they are producing. An average motor worker in Japan earns R27,467,44 per month and a South African worker earns R3657,98 per month. The truth is that all these workers irrespective of the location are making the same cars. What is disturbing is that South African workers cannot even afford to purchase the very same cars they are producing.

Critics argue unknowingly that wage increases should be pegged to the inflation targeting of the Reserve Bank. Inflation is unpredictable and is not an absolute measure. There is no concrete reasoning why should wages be determined by inflation. It is not just employers who grow the economy. It is those workers who buy other goods that have been produced in the economy. And if their wage increases are equalized with the current inflation at 4,4% , their standard of living will diminish. This will be negative increase because workers would not keep up with the increased cost of living, as inflation eats into the purchasing power of workers wages. Effectively this means wage rates become stagnant. They cannot buy what they bought the year before and obviously the economy cannot grow because people will buy less. Many critics discount the fact that workers feed extra families because of shrinking of jobs and increased poverty. The recent increase in fuel prices put extra burden to workers on the transport and food costs. Ruthless pursuit of inflation targeting harms economic growth and restrain wage increases.

Numsa”˜s Demands.

-A guaranteed wage increase of 9% percent across the board;

– 3-year wage agreement;

-Training should take place during working hours;

-100% payment of maternity leave;

-For every artisan there must be one apprentice;

-Workers working under the labour brokers should be employed permanently after 3 months;

-Any bonus should be calculated at 9%;

-Provide anti-retroviral drugs to HIVAIDS sufferers and must be given 30 days sick leave circle;

-Negotiate additional categories of workers for level 5;

-5 days per occurrence for family responsibility leave.

For more information contact Dumisa Ntuli @ (011) 689 1700 or cell 0829737282