Economic crisis

Global meltdown!As Numsa News went to print, leaders of the G20* group of countries had just met (on Saturday November 15) to discuss the global financial crisis. What they decide will affect your future!

How the global meltdown is hitting us!First it was the motor retail sector in this country – the sale of cars and service of cars – that was hard-hit when interest rates, food and fuel prices in this country soared and people could no longer afford to buy cars or to continue paying the instalments on them.

Sales outlets closed down, motor workers lost their jobs.Then came the financial crunch in the United States of America. It took a while for Numsa members to feel the effects, but they are feeling them now:* in the auto sector, Ford and General Motors have been served with retrenchments* in the engineering sector, faxes are starting to come in from companies across the country, notifying of short time, retrenchments or extra weeks unpaid leave over Christmas.

Mittal Steel Saldanha will send its workers home for an extra 2 weeks unpaid leave over Christmas because of the slow down in demand for steel world-wide; workers at car parts maker Pasdec in Brits, will shut down a week early and be forced to take unpaid leave for that week.

Other down-stream steel suppliers have given notice of short-time and retrenchments. Thousands of miners are being retrenched and this could affect smaller engineering companies that supply to the mines.

These are difficult times. Make sure you notify your organiser of any planned retrenchments or short-time so that Numsa can assist with any negotiations. Numsa is committed to defending you and getting you the best deal.

* The G20 consists of leaders from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States. According to Wikipedia, these 20 countries comprise 90% of global gross national product, 80% of world trade (including EU intra-trade) and two-thirds of the world population.

Ford South Africa – dark days ahead for someFord, Pretoria shop steward, Andrew Chirwa, spoke to workers at his plant to find out how they feel about the planned retrenchments of about 1000 workers in Pretoria and Port Elizabeth. Ephraim Mdluli

I started working at Ford in 2004.I believe the numbers are too high. It is as good as they can close the Company, and the reasons for this retrenchment do not make any sense.

I do not know what am I going to do if I leave this Company. I think Ford should retrench young people who still have the future rather than the old people who are not employable. The Company must put more money in the packages so that we can go back to school.

Emely NkosiI started working for this Company in 2004.Retrenchment is bad news, there is no way anyone can feel good about it. It's not good to lose your job so unexpectedly.

The majority of us will be back on the street again looking for employment. These overseas companies do not care about us.

George Ndlovu I started working for this Company in 1977. I don’t know where I will go if they retrench me tomorrow.

I built this Company for my whole life and today they tell me I must go; where must I go? This company must think for us before their profits. We are not paid like Ford workers in Thailand and North America.

Lazzie KgatlaI started working at Ford in 1999. I think the company should start looking for volunteers first and give more money to those volunteers. Unfortunately as workers there is not much that we can do but it's difficult.

The Company should give more support to the affected employees, for example to start their own businesses.

GM workers discuss joint action world-wideMphumzi Maqungo, Numsa General Motors (GM) shop steward in Port Elizabeth, attended a GM workers’ meeting in Belgium at the beginning of November 2008 to discuss the crisis in GM where thousands have lost their jobs in the US and more jobs are threatened world-wide including South Africa. Numsa News put some questions to him.

Who attended the meeting?Workers representing plants from Brazil, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Australia, Belgium, UK, Korea, Sweden, Hungary and Poland were there. The US representatives were not present because of their presidential elections.

What was the purpose of the meeting?Workers from these countries got an opportunity to report on their situation and to strengthen the level of communication and solidarity when one of the plants is facing serious pressure from GM. We also reflected on the situation of the US auto workers.

What was the news from the US?GM is really in crisis. GM has secured a loan from the United Auto Workers (UAW) in order to deal with the issue of voluntary severance packages for workers for US$30 billion.

During campaigning for the presidential elections, Obama’s team promised Ford, GM and Chrysler that if they won, they would bail them out with US$50 billion. (The decision still has to go through congress – editor)

How has this crisis in the US affected workers in other parts of the world?GM has been talking to workers that there must be a wage freeze; in some plants workers have been working for free thinking that things will go back to normal but they did not. Instead, GM continued to close plants in Europe.

In others GM is putting workers on long short time or lay offs or others are closing early and will not be paid for the period they will be at home.

Or it is pitting workers against each other so as to weaken the union. And it has accelerated internal competition between the European sites over the production of future car models.

What strategies did you come up with?Communication is the best tool we have. We agreed that our members must use the blog as the tool of communicating with other workers around the world. If some plants are affected by short time or lay offs we must communicate this. See GM workers’ blogsite (

—————————————————-Dark days for GM workers in Antwerp, Belgium‘Flexisam’ – A blogger on the GM workers’ blogsite responds to the GM European boss’ claims that no factories will be closed in Europe: finaly some good news, but the number of down-days he talks about is a bit on the low side i think.

In oktober the antwerp plant was down for 2 weeks + a couple of other days. In november we can only work for seven days. for december there are not a lot of days left that we can go to work as our management announced three extra days down above the down days we allready had. the amount of working days for december will be about the same as for november.

I would say: Merry Christmas without presents!!! ‘Flexisam’(NB – spelling mistakes have not been corrected – editor)


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