The job security conference – now what?
Cedric GinaNumsa had a successful jobs security conference in mid-March, addressed by the State President Kgalema Motlanthe and deputy trade and industry minister Rob Davies.
Employer representatives from all the sectors that Numsa organises were also there to give brief details of key challenges in their sectors.
Surely the questions from you are what now? Have job losses stopped? Me think not.However, the union is now armed with resolutions (see page 7 for detailed resolutions) that empower the national office bearers (NOBs) to engage with all stakeholders with confidence.
These resolutions have been championed in different important meetings like Nedlac, the Millennium Labour Council as well as in bilaterals with employers, government departments and even the Presidency.
We have met the department of trade and industry (dti). We have stopped meetings that dti held with auto employers that took place without us. We have met the capital equipment sector (makes machinery) which is regarded as a 'distressed sector'.
We have met an Eskom Executive Committee and we have met officials from DBSA, Presidency and IDC. We participate in two important Nedlac task teams ie social security and distressed task teams where myself and Irvin Jim respectively sit.
We have discovered information about the impact of Alec Erwinâ€™s decisions in Department of Public Enterprise. We now know that thousands of jobs were lost in our sector because of his decision to exempt State Owned Enterprises from participating in the Department of Trade and Industry National Industry Participation programme (NIDPP) which was tasked with promoting local content in the country.
We have details on how capital equipment has been forced to retrench our members because Transnet prefers the â€œpopular brandsâ€ in capital equipment procurement in places like the Port of Coega and Port of Durban – all these allowed by the exemption given by a Numsa former national educator, who championed nationalization when he was still in Numsa.
We now know the impact of the Preferential Procurement Policy of government, which does not prioritize local content in procurement of goods for government and municipalities.
This has allowed Telkom, Durban Metro and Johannesburg Metro to procure goods from foreign countries through BEE companies that have no capacity to manufacture in South Africa.
We can safely say that BEE has worsened the situation of members in ATC and Aberdare cables, in Busaf and other bus manufacturing companies who were forced to retrench because of Marco Polo buses on our roads.
We have found ourselves fighting battles against unprecedented ill discipline by the Minister of Finance who gets defeated in a meeting that adopts the Framework for SA response to global financial crisis on the bail outs for the auto and components sector, a sector that provides the anchor for the Eastern Cape economy and thousands of jobs for our members. We have steadfastly clarified that our jobs must be saved, not the profits of the bosses.
We have found allies in different places, in government and in business. We now know ministers who support many of our resolutions like increasing tariffs within the allowed space in the WTO rules, from a principled stance.
Unfortunately, we have also seen sheer opportunism by some to maintain their positions in the cabinet under the new administration. We have found allies in business who share our view on the role of State owned enterprises in stimulating the local economy.
What are the next steps?The Numsa leadership collective is confident that there are immediate things that can be done to save thousands of jobs and create thousands of new jobs.
The following actions come to mind;â€¢ Lifting the Alec Erwin exemption on NIDP participation so that the infrastructure budget is utilized within South Africa coupled with immediate Research and Development intervention where no products are produced in SA.â€¢
Compelling the municipalities to procure buses and the components for the bus rapid transport sytem (BRT) from the local economy without being anti-internationalist as a country.â€¢
Engaging Telkom and Neotel to procure cables from South African manufacturers like Aberdare Cables, ATC and othersâ€¢ Compelling Eskom and Transnet to procure bolts and nuts, pylons, transformers, cables, cranes, train wheels, capital equipment and all other goods that they use in their companies from South Africa where possible. â€¢
Last but not least, because the regulation of the price of steel is moving at a snailâ€™s pace, the issue of the nationalisation of Arcelor Mittal becomes relevant.
We believe that these are just a few things that can be implemented within the first 100 days of Jacob Zuma's Presidency.
They can make a huge impact in cushioning the effects of this capitalist crisis in our economy and our sector. If we can do this, by the time we get into implementing the manifesto, we would have saved and created new jobs.
It would seem that there will be no relaxation for the National Office Bearers after the elections on 22 April 2009 and the inauguration of the new President Jacob Zuma on May 9 2009.