Numsa press ahead with protest demonstrations in SOEs

At least 10 000 members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa(Numsa) in privatized state-owned enterprises, including Mittal and Eskom are to press ahead with their mass protest action to demand incorporation into the main industry agreement.

Fourteen companies involved in house agreements within the largest metal steel and engineering industry will be affected by the planned solidarity action, which will culminate in a national day of picketing in all plants on December 15, 2006. These companies also include Assmang, BHP Billiton, Columbus Stainless Steel, XSTRATA, Highveld Steel and Samancor among others.

This follows a meeting between the companies’ chief executive officers and Numsa which failed to resolve the dispute. It was convened under the auspices of the metal and engineering industry bargaining council.

A national shop stewards council held last weekend had restated after declaring a dispute, its intention to go ahead with its five-day protest campaign from December 11, 2006, with workers embarking on one-hour demonstrations, preceding the national picketing day on December 15, 2006. They will be demanding integration into the industry main agreement of the MEIC special chamber.

Numsa has pressed since previous bargaining wage talks for all house agreements companies to be integrated into the main agreement.

Lucas Mthiyane, Numsa engineering sector chief negotiator said the union has pressed since last year’s bargaining wage talks for all house agreement companies to consider the long- standing demand for integration in order to ensure that workers were better assessed and their benefits improve considerably.

Integration into the MEIBC main agreement would also enhance the workers’ standard of living by ensuring uniformity in dispute resolution structures and reduction of health hazards and fatal accidents in the workplace, he said.

“It appears that employers have no legitimate or clear reasons why they are not keen to formulate a special negotiations chamber within the MEIBC. They vociferously rejected our demand and forced us to declare a new dispute again,” Mthiyane said.

The protest campaign will be assessed later in December and continued, culminating to a major strike early next year.

For further information contact:-

Mziwakhe Hlangani, Nation information officer

Cell phone: 082 940 7116

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