Overspending arms dealer to retrench thousandsMziwakhe HlanganiState arms manufacturer Denel got off to a bad start this year after it emerged that it could lay-off more than a thousand workers.

This comes despite government's injection of R4,1 billion of taxpayers’ money into Denel’s grand restructuring and export programmes. At least 125 workers in the aviation division were expected to lose their jobs with immediate effect.

Further redundancies in Denel’s ammunition division were also predicted just as embattled Denel chief executive officer Shaun Liebenberg prepares to jump ship and join the German armaments company Rhein Metall which bought over 51% shares of the state's ammunition division.

Other massive job losses were anticipated in the non-core Special Protein Plant (SPP),, Dendistru, Irenco and Co-Source (IT) companies which have been disposed of to black economic empowerment consortia.

Numsa has also learnt that Denel has overspent by R350 million.

While some expected money-spinning programmes including Aerospace EBB Marshals upgrade, Gripen technology, Cheetah Product Support, Hawk Final Assembly, Boeing 707 Product Support were completed others have been decommissioned by the SA Air Force.

Meanwhile R6m in losses, in addition to R15,3m under recovery, were projected for the next financial year.

These losses are expected to spiral to a whopping R53m by 2013.The retrenchments cuts across all employees including those in the managerial, supervisory, technical, artisans and business support job categories.

General workers and aides will be the hardest hit. The final number of those retrenched could be as high as 7000.Further talks to explore alternatives to retrenchments will continue on March 7, 2008.

Liebenberg’s radical and ambitious restructuring plans to position the state enterprise for profitability and sustainability seem to have all fizzled into thin air.

CBI sends 750 employees packing after closing downMziwakhe HlanganiWith eyes peeled on exploiting cheap labour in Lesotho, Free State-based manufacturer of electrical distribution components, CBI (Circuit Breaker Industries), packed up and laid off 750 metalworkers from its factory in Qwa Qwa before Christmas.

Instead it moved across the border where the Lesotho government will allow it to pay reduced wages of R150 a week for a 45-hour working week.

It made its move after Numsa had successfully fought to have its five-year wage exemption from paying wage rates set by the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council cancelled.

This would have forced the company to pay its workers R674 per week.Retrenched workers from the Free State plant were offered alternative jobs across the border but would have had to agree to have their salaries and other benefits reduced from R337 a week to R168 a week.

CBI had earlier moved its operations from Botshabelo near Bloemfontein to the now defunct homeland Qwaqwa before 1994 because it could not stand pressure from Numsa to improve employment conditions, including wages.

Numsa has now sought the intervention of Cosatu, Southern African Trade Unions Council, International Metalworkers Federation in the region and its sister union in Germany, IG Metall.

Scabs must stop selling out workers

Scabbing during strikes is threatening the power of workers to fight for their rights, says Numsa Eastern Cape regional secretary, Irvin Jim. Numsa News asked him what he plans to do about this problem.

What prompted you to think about this problem?Strikes at Willard Batteries and Hi-Tech Automotive were taken on by the union as a last resort. Both strikes lasted for four months. During that time their families, their relatives sacrificed and stood together to support their genuine demands.

However there was a bashing attitude from employers against working people and their union. And both companies employed scab labour to try and undermine the genuine sacrifices of workers.

How were the strikes finally resolved?At Willard Batteries Numsa finally settled when the company agreed to give its staff a 9% wage increase for 2007 with a 7,9% increase for 2009 and 2010, based on an inflation-related rate. At Hi-Tech Automotive in St Albans all we managed was to get them reinstated.

How do you propose to stop scabbing in the future?We have to debate the issue of scabs. Why should employers be allowed to undermine legitimate strike action by bringing in scabs? It causes an imbalance in the power between employers and workers.

Our region has also resolved to educate all communities this year about the divisive and reactionary nature of scabbing in companies where workers are defending their own gains through strike action.

Our members will have to do what it takes to defend their jobs from unscrupulous individuals who are willing to sell out these genuine struggles of workers.

Why do you think communities should support striking workers?Communities benefit from worker struggles to retain existing jobs and create new quality jobs with good benefits and conditions.

How should communities support striking workers?Our communities must stand together in support of unions and workers’ struggles and not tolerate this reactionary tendency.

In the early '80s we dealt with this situation. Everybody knew that if some were not going to work, nobody was allowed to go to work.

A stayaway was a stayaway, if we do not buy in town, everybody knew that we were not buying in town.

It's time to go back to basics. We must revisit what was good in the past. We must use the strategies that we used in the past to raise the levels of consciousness of our communities and seriously lift the spirit of togetherness.

We cannot afford the kind of values that are so foreign to our communities.

What other measures is the Union considering to help Willard Batteries and Hi-Tech workers recover from the effects of the strike?Numsa leadership in the Eastern Cape is proposing that shop stewards should go back to our members in plants and ask all Numsa members and staff to contribute R10 in solidarity with these workers.

Workers contributed in a similar way to the lengthy strike by workers at Golden Company in Butterworth a few years ago.

What lesson have you learnt from these strikes?Before any strike action we should plan thoroughly, analyse the employer we are striking against so that we can be in a position to counteract anything that will undermine the pressure of the strike.

What message do you have for workers at Willard Batteries and Hi-Tech Automotive?Numsa is proud of their heroic struggles.

Their strikes boosted the consciousness and political confidence of many workers who continue to be abused and brutalized under the iron hand of various notorious employers across various sectors of the economy.

We are proud of them because they chose to fight and defend their benefits. They struggled to improve their conditions and benefits but more importantly they made their voices heard. 

The Voting Continues

Last year or early this year many of you took part in the voting season to choose your new shop stewards.

Now that shop stewards have been chosen at factory level, shop stewards at a local level will elect office bearers to represent the local.

The local helps to bring all shop stewards in a particular area together.

Locals are important because they build the union in that area. In regular shop steward council meetings, shop stewards discuss their problems with other shop stewards, get advice from other more experienced shop stewards so that they can strategise and help each other resolve problems both in their factories and in the areas where members live.

During March, elections will take place to elect new regional office bearers for each region. In October this year, Numsa's 8th National Congress will take place. At this congress, new national office bearers will be elected and policies debated and discussed.

Education for shop stewardsMake sure that your shop steward attends these planned workshops for the next few months. Without this training, your shop steward cannot represent you adequately.

Name of course


Who should attend

When will it be run?


* learn about Numsa history, structures, policies, programmes* learn the role and duties of a shop steward inside and outside the factory

New shop stewards but sometimes re-elected shop stewards attend to refresh themselves!

February – April 2008

Case handling

* learn how to defend members in disciplinary hearings and grievances * learn how to defend workers against all forms of dismissal or discrimination

All new shop stewards and those re-elected who have not already done it

April – May 2008

Some advice to your new shop stewardsFrom a re-elected shop stewardJust a little advice on how to become a power station as a Shop steward. Welcome on board to the newly elected shop stewards and well wishes for those still standing strong for another term.

Be cool, calm and collective. Be sober minded. Be involved in daily discussions on issues that affect the working class.

Be part and parcel of the day to day struggles in our communities. Set goals, long term and short term that are achievable.

Dig and seek for information. Be positive and realistic. Attend to all organisational business. Focus on the issues at hand. Listen, seek and take advice from the leadership.

Understand and abide by the organisational rules and regulations. Associate with the strong and vibrant leaders to build a powerful organisation. Don’t ride on the so-called gravy train. Don’t abuse or misuse your authority as a leader.

These are only a few guidelines to practice. Remember practice does not make perfect. It only creates room for improvement. Life is like a piano – it needs the master touch.Alutha, the struggle continua!Manie Pienaar, Uitenhage

Use this checklist to keep your shop steward in check!You have voted for your shop steward. Numsa believes in worker control to build a strong union on the factory floor. Now it's time for you to show them you know what worker control means!



* Are they holding monthly meetings with management and giving you report backs?

* Are they holding constituency/departmental meetings to find out your concerns/ problems?

* Are they holding factory general meetings at least once a month to report back to you on factory matters and the union in general and giving you a chance to have your say on these issues?

* Are they defending you in disciplinary enquiries and taking up your grievances?

* Do they have a recruitment plan to organise the unorganised in your workplace?

* Are your shop stewards taking up cases of sexual harassment, health and safety, training, employment equity and discrimination?

* Are they attending Numsa local shop steward councils and giving you report backs on Numsa and Cosatu matters eg the Madisha firing and Numsa's national congress later this year?

* Are they representing temporary workers and those employed by sub-contractors in your factory?

Beka iso kumashop stewards!I-Numsa izibiza ngenhlangano ephethwe abasebenzi. Loku kusho ukuthi nina basebenzi nikhetha abazonimela ukuze bahambise izinqumo zenu.

Kulelibhokisi ngaphezulu sininikeza imibono yokuthi niqinizekise ukuthi amashop stewards amela izidingo zenu.

Hou jou Shopsteward op sy tone!NUMSA is trots daarop dat hy ‘n werkersbeheerde Unie is. Dit beteken dat jy, die werkers, kies jou verteenwoordigers sodat hulle jou mandaat moet uitvoer. In die kolom hierbo het ons jou ‘n paar idees gegee hoe om seker te maak dat die shopstewards jou belange verteenwoordig!

Thlokomedisisa hore dishop steward tsa hao di etse mosepetsi wa tsona!Numsa ebitswa mokgatlo o laolwang ke basebetsi.

Seo se ra gore basebetsi ba tla kgetha moemedi wa bona o tla etsang bjalo ka ge a laetse ke basebetsi. Ka lepokosong la ka godimo efa maele (ideas) go ya ka mokgwa wo otla etsang hore di shopstewards de emele ditokelo tsa basebetsi.


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