Motor retail employers failed to break the impasse as workers to strike.

DATE : 02 September 2004



The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) will now mobilize all 180 000 workers in the petrol stations, component manufacturing, car dealer shops and panel beating shops for an indefinite strike that will take place on the 10th September 2004. This comes after the Fuel Retailers Association (FRA) and the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) reneged on in-principle agreement reached between the parties two weeks ago. The motor retail employers have offered an increase of 7,5% for all workers and the union has resorted back to its original wage demand. The main point of dispute is about failure of the employers to agree to an agency shop agreement which will put an end to free riders in the industry. The parties will meet again tomorrow 31st August 20004.

We thought there was an agreement until employers informed the union last week that they would not sign any agreement that has any agency shop clause. Workers feel frustrated because they hoped that parties will conclude the agreement. The union had earlier threatened a strike on the 1st September 2004. The strike date has been shifted. We have to start again mobilizing workers for the 10th September 2004. There was bad faith bargaining by the motor retail employers. There was no concession and we were deceived by employers. We cannot listen knowing that there are sharp disagreements on crucial and sensitive issues.

We have tried to bring the spirit of co-operation and renewed sense of commitment but sadly employers were uncooperative. In this regard, the conduct of employers in respect of the stalemate stands in stark contracts to what they always preach about good responsible bargaining. In this context, there was no moral courage to avoid the strike but a deceptive pursuit of industrial conflict by motor retail employers. We have diverse approaches that unfortunately will result into dysfunctional relations and ultimately conflict. Conflict becomes necessary only if it will break the current deadlock. Employers have created an atmosphere of suspicion.

We must now push for a strike to teach employers that hypocratic practices and double standards cannot be appreciated. We believe that there is no sober determination by the employers, clearly the union has no other option but make the situation difficult for employers. Employers have been shortsighted and have not given priority to the wage issues.

We want the agency shop agreement to be effected because we have the majority of members in the industry. Under, the agency shop agreement workers who do not belong to the trade unions will be required to pay 1% fee on their wages as stipulated by the Labour Relations Act. Workers who are not union members having been benefiting in terms of annual wage increases and better working conditions. We think that the agency shop agreement will by and large put an end to free riders. The agency shop will not impact upon the workers constitutional rights to be forced to join trade unions.

Numsa’s Demands

– A wage increase of 10% for grade 7 and 8 and 12% for grades 1 and 6.

– R10 per hour minimum wage for all workers.

– Night shift allowance of 20%: afternoon shift – 10%.

– 40 hour per week.

– Three year agreement

– Workers knocking off after 20H00 should get free transport.

– Area wage differentials must be removed immediately.

– Four weeks bonus at the end of 12 months.

– The right to utilize traditional healers to remain.

– No reduction to annual bonus.

– Establishment of agency shop agreement.

For more information or interviews contact Dumisa Ntuli at (011) 689-1700 or 0829737282. website