Numsa statement on the collapsed tyre wage negotiations

Numsa Statement on the collapsed Tyre Wage Negotiations

05 August 2010 The NATIONAL UNION OF METALWORKERS OF SOUTH AFRICA (Numsa), the single largest trade union representing over 6000 workers in the New Tyres Manufacturing Industry and related operations has since April 2010 been engaged in a process of lingering negotiations over wage increases and improvement in working conditions of members.

Throughout the negotiations the New Tyres Manufacturing Industry Employers Association (NTMIEA) with which as Numsa we have been negotiating has proven to be grossly inconsistent, lacking independence from the automotive assembly industry and intransigent.

These negotiations have been conducted to renew a three-year industry agreement that was entered into in 2007 and since expired on 30 June 2010. The negotiations have reached a deadlock in July 2010. An extra-ordinary session to resolve the deadlock was convened from 2 – 3 August 2010 where the negotiations collapsed.

The mediators have since issued a certificate for the union to embark on a protected strike. As a last resort, preparations for the strike are underway within the union. In due course the NTMIEA will be served with a 48 hours notice.

The strike will have a major impact over the economy with dire consequences over car production, local after market tyre supply and tyre exports. During the tenure of the expired new tyres manufacturing industry collective bargaining agreement workers in this sector received wage increases that were less than the rate of inflation.

This has had a devastating impact over wages given that the Reserve Bank of South Africa (RBSA) under the governorship of Gill Marcus was also raising interest rates in its conduct of the narrow policy of inflation targeting. The global capitalist crisis made matters worse through bloodbath job cuts and increase in the rate of the already crisis-level unemployment.

Job losses increased the average number of five (5) extended family members that especially Black workers care for in every cent they earn. In general, the negotiations have been taking place within the context of deepening failures of capitalism and neoliberal policies to resolve the persisting challenges of poverty, racialised development that affects mostly black working class and the youth. Our demands on wages and improvement in working conditions are consistent with our National Bargaining Conference (NBC) for the period under-review which consciously understood the deepening plight and sufferings of the industry workers also evidenced in racialised income and a widening gap between the lowest paid worker and a senior manager.

We have clearly observed that the tyre elites are hell-bent on their continued intentions to retain and reproduce racialised and poverty wages in an effort to consign workers to the same old apartheid employment conditions. This we are prepared to fight against informed by the African National Congress (ANC’s) electoral commitments of decent work and sustainable livelihoods for the workers and the poor.

Our demands should also be located and understood within the context of a dire need for equitable distribution of wealth at the point of production. We will never allow imperialist owned tyre companies to pay workers apartheid and precarious wages in the midst of huge profits levels that are off-loaded to imperial Stock Markets in the USA, Europe and Japan.

We demand:

• 16% wage increment across the board on Actuals;
• Workers to be moved from minimums to maximums within grades;

• Paid time off for education and training including Adult Basic Education (ABET) and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) assessment during working hours;

• That short-term and lay-off to be standardized and paid 100%;

• The extension of the scope of the agreement to salaried staff, tyre warehouses, rubber and transmission belt operations;

• That bonuses be guaranteed and dismissed workers must be paid their accrued bonuses;

• Six (6) months paid maternity leave and 5 days paternity leave without any loss of benefits;

• That labour brokering be abolished and affected workers be transferred to primary employers;

• Compliance with occupational health and safety legislation in general, the related General Administrative Regulations and in particular Regulation 6;

• 70% procurement of local content;

• That the duration of the bargaining agreement to be July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011. These demands by workers are consistent with the Freedom Charter, the over-arching policy document of our revolutionary ANC which called for work and security for all.

We demand that NTMIEA to concede to these legitimate core demands of workers. We are still open for engagement but the failure by NTMIEA to consider and agree to these demands will result to strike action never recorded in the history of the industry.

Workers are concerned by the vociferous and loud silence by the powers that be on the ongoing wage disputes across the sectors post the 2010 World Cup.

The powers that be became day-light brides of the Capitalist bosses to muzzle workers not to strike during the World Cup with charm and blind loyalty in the interest of a successful sporting event. Now the World Cup is over and the day-light brides are no longer irritated by workers’ demands for equal share of the wealth at the point of production.

Our members are ready and agitated to use their mobilisation power to withhold their labour ‘power’ until the demands are met by the Queens’ exploiters and profiteers.

Contact: Castro NgobeseNational Spokesperson – 073 299 1595


Numsa Press Release