Numsa organisers ready to tackle the jobs crisis

Numsa organisers ready to tackle the jobs crisisPeter Thobejane

From August 24 to 28 2009, Numsa held a retooling course for all its 110 organisers in three different workshops across the country.These courses were held as a result of decisions made at Numsa’s Job Security Conference held in March 2009.

The Conference resolved that there was an urgent need to retool its foot-soldiers in how to respond to the current capitalist crisis that has resulted in massive job losses, short-time and layoffs.

At the 5-day workshop, Numsa’s national office bearers (NOBs) addressed organisers on the crisis and updated them on what interventions the Union is making.

At the level of Nedlac NOBs have used some of the resolutions from the Jobs Conference to argue Numsa’s positions. As a result many of Numsa’s resolutions are contained in the Nedlac framework agreement.

Organisers also learnt from the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of measures outside the workplace that organisers can use to buttress shopfloor strategies.

For example the dti offers various incentives to manufacturers while the IDC is assisting companies that are battling financially because of the crisis with bridging loans and other financial help.

The conference stressed that Numsa must do all it can to keep workers at the point of production. Since March, Numsa has been discussing, in the Merseta, a way to provide training to retrenched workers and those that are working short-time.

As a result, the Merseta has developed the Rap plan. This will work with UIF and the National Skills Fund to provide training and payment for workers on short-time, layoff or instead of retrenching them.

It will pay these workers 50% of their basic salary up to a maximum of R6 239 per month while they are in training for a maximum of six months.Participants were taken through the collective agreements so that they become familiar with them and can ensure that employers follow clauses that provide some cushion for workers during short-time, layoff and retrenchments.

Delegates were advised that when they as the union request a company to disclose information during the consultation processes around section 189 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA), they can approach Productivity SA for assistance in scrutinizing the statements.

This company will also assist distressed companies to develop a turnaround strategy. Much time was spent on the law around retrenchment, recent cases that Numsa’s footsoldiers can use to advance workers’ cause and how they can prepare for these eventualities.

Organisers shared experiences and came up with different strategies on how to approach these problems in the future.“After this course,” said one organiser,“we are now in a position to provide alternatives to retrenchments.

We can stop acting like funeral undertakers in retrenchment consultations where our role is to assist in the removal of bodies of retrenchees from the workplace.”

What has the education department been doing?* Know your rights – Empowering shop stewards on their main agreementsNumsa has been running courses for shop stewards on the collective bargaining agreements in the engineering and motor sectors.

Shop stewards are taken through the contents of the agreements and are taught how to take statements from workers with problems and how to resolve problems that workers have by reading the agreement.

In this photo, shop stewards from Numsa’s Rosslyn local attend their main agreement workshop with organiser and educator, Sekome Tshoga.

* Oiling the engines of NumsaLocal and regional office bearers from all regions except Sedibeng have participated in a Numsa course called “Oiling the engines of Numsa”.

Participants are given an analogy of Numsa as a big tanker and its crew – its office bearers – need to steer the ship properly so it doesn’t sink. But its cargo, Numsa members, is not like normal cargo – it is not passive.

Members require service and if they are not satisfied, they can resign and leave the union.The course looks at how office bearers can help to build effective and efficient Numsa regions and how office bearers can better manage Numsa staff.

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