DATE: 05 August 2004
Johannesburg Press release – for immediate release
NUMSA AND CAR-MANUFACTURING EMPOYERS CONCLUDE A 3 YEAR WAGE DEAL.
Today, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) will conclude a three-year wage agreement with the Automobile Manufacturers Employers Organisation (AMEO). The parties will sign the agreement today at Sunnyside, Pretoria , corner Batrix and Vermeulen street, 14h00 sharp. The settlement put an end to the three months wage negotiations. The deal sets fourth an average pay rise of 7,5% representing a real wage hike for 21 000 workers in the vehicle manufacturing industry. Wage increases will be backdated to 1 July 2004. The agreement entails the following benefits:
– 3 year wage agreement,
– Workers may qualify themselves through study assistance schemes in order to apply for skill level 5 and higher vacancies,
– All workers will have access to health insurance and/or medical aid membership which will ensure access to appropriate medication, including ARV’s , required to treat HIV/AIDS,
– Adult Basic Education will take place during working hours , 50% paid by the employers and 50% paid by Work Security Fund,
– 100% payment for 4 months maternity leave,
At least we were able to seal the deal without any conflict for the first time in the history of the industry. The wage agreement is more than welcome because it will cushion the wages of workers in the car industry. This is the highest average wage increase considering the effects of inflation on wages. Many conservative critics fail to understand that collective bargaining is an instrument for redistribution of wealth. Therefore, the trade union movement must play this role of increasing the wealth of members with better wage increases in the light of massive unemployment and poverty in the country.
We have been able to introduce checks and balances to ensure that employers do not trample workers benefits simply to satisfy their own needs. The current wage increases will catch-up with the standard of living. We are delighted that as a union, our tactics to put corrective measures that will address disproportionate wages is moving in the right direction. We have acted decisively to improve the working conditions of workers. We feel that employers must not be given a chance to destroy the living standards of workers.
Many hypocrite economists like Tony Twine are consistently impatient with better increases of workers in the car industry and went further to suggest in the media that car companies would relocate if workers would ask for improved wages. It must be stated that investors know that South African car workers cannot work for a bag of a mealie-mealie. The question which remains unanswered is that why should production be benchmark with developed economies and wages benchmarked with underdeveloped economies. Many liberal economists are silent about salaries and perks of directors which have compensated for inflationary excesses.
The industry does not need partisan analyses but fair practices for the benefit of all stakeholders. Some of the comments by neo-liberal economists encourage limitless egotism, which threaten to erode the rights of workers. It is therefore our firm assertion that the largest threat to the car industry is not workers who are demanding better wages but the industry’s own inefficient capacity. Whilst the country has celebrated the short- term benefits of the MIDP but many car companies have cut jobs as means to recover. The neo-liberal economists pay little attention to the effects of the programme. As a union, we seek to improve its effectiveness and equity, by raising the living standards and working conditions. .
For more information contact Dumisa Ntuli @ (011) 689 1700 or cell 0829737282 – website www.numsa.org.za