Despite the adoption of a new South African constitution guaranteeing civil liberties and worker rights, metalworkers in the Northern Cape town of Upington allege that employers are still using old methods to discipline workers.
According to a Numsa shopsteward, the situation in his company is so bad that white workers are sent to assault black workers whenever the employer is dissatisfied with their performance or conduct.
Allegations of racism, inefficient department of Labour and Unemployment Insurance Fund officials, bad governance and jungle justice appear to be common problems in a town that is besieged by high levels of unemployment, poor pay and sometimes appalling working conditions. Little wonder then that Upington is the hottest town in South Africa !
On the whole, the Case Handling workshop was well received and participants were eager to air their views.
Desmond Mdluli, Chairperson of the Northern Cape region acknowledged that the area was difficult to service, since the nearest Numsa offices were located in Kim berley , some 410 km away. Besides that, the nearest motor bargaining council office is located in Welkom, with the CCMA based in Kim berley .
It is clear that the region requires more resources – more organisers and perhaps a roving ‘Numsa-mobile’, fully equipped to service the outlying areas like Upington, and the numerous other small towns dotted alongside the Orange River .
Nothing hurts more than to hear a shopsteward say, “We all belong to Numsa, but we have yet to see an organiser visit our plant.”