Nearly 67 VWSA workers belonging to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa [NUMSA] are on strike action at the VWSA Roodekop parts distribution. The strike was prompted by the unilateral outsourcing of the packing department at the parts distribution division to a labour broker. The outsourcing of the packing area will affect 19 workers.
The strike is overwhelmingly supported by all workers determined to continue until the company reverse the decision to outsource the packing area. The situation is critical as the company has provided striking workers with dirty water, despite the agreement that workers will be allowed to drink clean water. Workers are angry that the company has further threatened to take the car used by the full-time shop steward for union activities. It is abundantly clear that the company is on fighting mode. Typically, the union will have to display maturity but at the same time put pressure to protect workers. We will now have to call for extra troops at VWSA Uitenhage plant for a solidarity action this week. We have to now compel the company to agree on reversing the decision to outsource.
All the attempts to resolve the issue amicably failed. As a matter of fact, the company has not been serious to give careful thought to the issue of outsourcings. It is a fact that outsourcing coupled with labour brokering is harmful to workplace restructuring. It diminishes the rights and benefits of workers. Any form of labour brokering is unacceptable, whether it has BEE or not, the truth is workers hard won gains are undermined. So far workers have not benefited from any BEE deal. It has been proven that these deals only benefit few individuals. We are not in a business of patronising BEE at the direct detriment of workers. We have always insisted that all BEE deals should be transparent and uniform.
Consequently, labour brokers modify all the good benefits of workers such as medical aid and pension/provident fund. Based on the appropriateness test , workers must strike to end labour brokers in the industry. There is always a good reason for workers to take action. The strike will have ramifications to the customers of the company. The packing department is the core business of the company; it should not be outsourced because workers have skills to do the job. Certainly outsourcing does not in all instances result in radical transformation and efficiency of operations.