The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), representing 234 000 metalworkers in the country met from the 29 -31 March 2010 at the Vincent Mabuyakhulu Conference Centre under the banner of our National Bargaining Conference (NBC) and unanimously resolved to give expression to the theme: Living Wage = Decent Work. We have met to consolidate our bargaining demands for the year under review consciously understanding the effects and impacts of the current global Capitalist crisis on the workers and the poor of our country and the world.
Such a crisis has deepened the plight and sufferings of the workers and the poor through massive job losses, and widening income inequalities between rich and the poor. For NUMSA this round is about two key strategic demands, i.e. retention of existing jobs and fight against wage deflation that employers are contemplating as a way of passing to workers their decline in profit rates.
More than 148 bargaining delegates representing the auto, motor, tyre & rubber, Eskom and engineering sectors organized by the union noted that the 2010 bargaining negotiations coincides with the country’s hosting of the historic 2010 World Cup showpiece.
With only over 70 days to go, delegates pledged their full support to the South African national soccer team “Bafana Bafana” in the quest to hoist high, South Africa’s flag during the world’s most premium soccer event. Our bargaining delegates firmly believe that the 2010 World Cup should be used to reinforce the rights of workers globally, as well as eliminating all forms of discrimination, racism and xenophobia.
The NBC was also taking place after a highly successful launch of our Youth Desk, which took place on the 27th – 28th March 2010. The leadership was very excited about the level of robust and principled engagements within young metalworkers and we believe that this comradely engagement will strengthen our organizational capacity to challenge the doyens of capitalism.
As the country slowly recovers from the global recession, delegates took on the grueling task to consolidate a set of demands that are likely to take the union well beyond the celebratory events of June-July 2010.
In this context we deliberated on a range of issues covering four broad areas: a set of core demands, sector specific issues; socio-economic issues and strengthening the union’s organisational capacity.CORE DEMAND ON WAGES; TRAINING AND LABOUR BROKERS:The union will negotiate one (1) year wage agreements in the Automotive Assembly and Tyre Manufacturing industries, Motor sector, Iron and Steel Houses and at Eskom.
This is aimed at aligning the bargaining periods across all our sectors. The union will demand a 20% wage increase across the board and a minimum of R24 for the lowest paid workers in the Motor Sector. This demand is simply about maintaining the 2007 buying power of our members.
Workers have experienced a fall in real wages since the last bargaining round held in 2007. This has added a blow to workers’ share of income that has been falling since 1994. We believe that the 20% wage increase demand is modest and does not necessarily mean that the quality of life of workers will improve.
This should show that NUMSA is not insensitive or unaware of the current economic climate. Anything less than this demand will mean that workers will be financing companies’ fall in the rate of profit during the recession.
We have never seen any sharing of wealth during good economic times and we therefore find it unacceptable that workers should now sacrifice more than they have already in difficult times. Already workers have made many sacrifices and we have seen tens of thousands of retrenchments in our sectors alone as companies have reduced employment levels to maximize profits during the recession.
NUMSA is determined to eliminate colonial and apartheid income inequality and the skills training deficit of the overwhelming majority of our people in particular Black people.
We shall rally metalworkers to be at the centre of the skills revolution so that recognition of prior learning, determination of career paths and training during working hours is translated into reality.
The union will also make use of collective bargaining to continue fighting for the abolition of labour brokers.NUMSA shall present prioritized sector-specific demands during the 2010 bargaining round. All other demands will be negotiated next year, 2011 when all sectors should be bargaining concurrently. SOCIO-ECONOMIC ISSUES NEW JOBS-LED GROWTH PATH AND NATIONALIZATION:The Bargaining Conference demands a new growth path with a focus on manufacturing and industrialization.
It is quite clear that our country must be steered away from a consumption driven-economy, dominated by finance capital and in minerals energy complex that remain untransformed as we continue to export primary commodities. This is the reason why the country needs a new growth path buttressed by an industrial strategy anchored on manufacturing with a single objective to build our domestic economy, drive localization and create quality jobs as its desired outcome.
The Bargaining Conference calls for the beneficiation and diversification of our mineral and other strategic resources. For this reason Numsa will continue its struggles for the nationalization of productive and wealth generating resources.ARCELOR MITTAL AND KUMBA DISPUTE: We call on government to prohibit Import Parity Pricing (IPP) exercised by unscrupulous companies such as Arcelor Mittal. IPP makes that price of steel expensive and undermines the local economic development by stifling the growth of downstream manufacturing and compromise employment.
The Bargaining Conference demands that government must intervene in the dispute between Arcelor Mittal and Kumba. This must be aimed at ensuring that both the companies are subordinated to the national interest of championing manufacturing and creating quality jobs. Already the jobs of workers at Mittal are threatened by the manner in which this dispute is handled.
THE SALE OF SCAW METAL:The Bargaining Conference further demands that government must intervene in the mooted selling of SCAW Metal South Africa by Anglo America in order not to lose this South African strategic asset.ESKOM:As NUMSA we reject the unjustifiable and sky-rocketing electricity tariff increases and privatization in Eskom. We demand that government intervene and rollback these increases and privatization which have an adverse effect over working class communities.
We will mobilize our members to join en mass the call by our federation COSATU for a strike against the Eskom increases. PROCUREMENT: In line with our quest to defend jobs and create sustainable employment and decent work we demand that government procure locally as a way of defending and building our declining productive capacity.
THE UNION REJECTS COMMERCIALIZATION OF TRANSNET:? All future plans for Transnet must take into consideration the requirements of an overall developmental national transport policy. ? Government must urgently boost direct state expenditure on infrastructural projects and in particular on increased facilities for rail travel in the interest of productive economic growth.? Government ensures that Transnet ceases privatizing profitable areas of its services, but neglecting other key service areas which are needed to develop the economy, merely because they are not deemed profitable. ? Policy changes must urgently be made, requiring and adequately funding. ? Transnet must provide services that effectively support industry as a whole and reach areas previously disadvantaged by apartheid spatial planning. ? Government must ensure that Transnet’s procurement programme benefits local engineering manufacturers and creates new jobs rather than enriching well-connected ‘tenderpreneurs’ acting on behalf of unknown suppliers. ? Transnet must urgently reinstate a comprehensive training programme along the lines of that once provided by the former South African Railways (SAR), in the interests of national economic development as a whole.STRENGTHENING THE UNION’S ORGANISATIONAL CAPACITYThe union believes that it is imperative to continue building its organizational strength.
To this end we call on all NUMSA cadres to aggressively pursue the union’s recruitment campaign across all metal and related sectors. We need to ensure that our members actively participate at all levels of the union.
The union is mindful of the fact that the factory floor remains the battleground for workers in the quest to seize power from the bosses. NUMSA emerges out of its Bargaining Conference resolute to mobilize not only its members but the rest of society.
The union’s demands are part of a continuous struggle to realize the national objective of a better life for all.Contact:Irvin Jim, General Secretary – 073 157 6384 Karl Cloete, Deputy General Secretary, 083 389 0777Castro Ngobese, National Spokesperson, 073 299 1595
Numsa Press Statement