This year is loaded with many organisational activities, including upcoming national bargaining, followed by motor industry negotiations. The motor industry agreement ends on August 31 this year. This triggers a process where workers organised by Numsa in the motor industry are required to formulate new demands.
In doing so, there should be an appreciation and understanding of qualitative achievements during the 2010 motor industry negotiation, so that those achievements form the basis and foundation of this year’s negotiations, including the gradual termination of labour brokers in motor industry, scrapping of caps on the retrenchment clause which is used to deprive workers of severance pay in accordance with the Labour Relations Act; reduction of hours of work from 45 to 40 hours without loss of pay subject to engagements in the Industrial Policy Forum; the upgrading of cashiers to grade two; and the re-establishment of a tripartite forum with the purpose of securing a living wage and the sustainability of the industry.
It should be noted that motor negotiations take place against the background of the Marikana massacre that claimed the lives of workers and challenged the collective bargaining system to its core.
Nevertheless, in the end workers scored a significant increase and better working condition. Motor negotiations also take place at a time when farmworkers have staged a progressive strike under severe attacks by the police force and ultimately settled for R102 per day, as opposed to their initial demand of R150 per day
The balance of forces in terms of pushing for our demands is favourable to us, and we can draw lessons and inspiration from the many victories claimed by the organised working class. What should be the form and content of our approach to motor negotiations?
The starting point should be to demand a 20% wage increase on actuals across all divisions and chapters; a 15% afternoon shift allowance; a 20% night shift; the backdating of the increase to September 1 2013; full pay on maternity leave; five years’ additional leave across all chapters; R20 per hour for patrol attendants; and three weeks’ annual bonus for all divisions.
Numsa’s new organising and collective bargaining strategy asserts that “our fight with the bosses is first and foremost a fight against their exploitation of labour; our fight is just, what we want does not belong to the bosses. It belongs to us, the workers, and not in part but in whole.
That is our unpaid labour which they accumulate and wrongfully call their private property.” (Page 19 of book three presented at the 9th National Congress).
Nevertheless, in advancing our struggle for better working conditions and social surplus at the point of production, we should adopt a high level of discipline during the course of strikes; and avoid any negative tendencies which can dent the image of our beloved trade union Numsa and incur unnecessary legal expenses.
We should further mobilise the churches, civil society organisations, the community at large and Cosatu affiliates and our sister unions for a decisive victory.
Lastly, our efforts should derive courage and resilience from the guiding theme adopted by the 9th Numsa National Congress: “25 years of militant struggle for decent jobs, national liberation and socialism”.
John Manana is a local secretary at Johannesburg Central, JC Bez.
Negotiators must keep members informed
By City Bokaba
The silly season of congresses is gone and now 2013 should be a year of action. We as Numsa members must be at the forefront in making sure that our 9th National congress resolutions are implemented in their totality and we are able to share the surplus value with the capitalists. Among those resolutions is one demanding that we prioritise service to members in recruitment and bargaining.
The motor, auto and tyre and rubber sectors will negotiate this year after a three-year agreement comes to an end. All shop stewards should put their ear to the ground and collect demands from workers which are realistic and achievable.
It is important that we build a strong organisation in the motor sector by recruiting and organising the unorganised. It is equally important to learn from the past hiccups and make sure that in moving forward, workers will be the ones taking decisions, of course guided by leadership.
There are of course expectations – workers think that one of their reasons for joining trade unions will be fulfilled in the form of better working conditions. Ellen Makola, a shop steward at William Hunt, had this to say – and it might be the general feeling of the entire membership: “Once the process of negotiation has started, I expect that negotiators must come back to members to report on the progress made and not to take decisions for us. We must be kept informed so that we don’t have the repeat of Marikana saga.”
Another shop steward from BTS Company said that only few demands should be tabled, so that they can be achieved. “I would like to see majority of organised workers on the street once there is a deadlock,” he said. “The negotiators should from time to time inform us about what is happening at the negotiation table.
The negotiations should not take long once there is a strike. Lastly I would like to see at least 80% of our demands achieved,” said Mokone Mokgohloa.
In terms of numbers we are organisationally weak, so it is important that we triple our effort to recruit in motor sector and make sure that decisions which were previously taken on this issue are implemented. Every worker should be an organiser.
There should be a great mobilisation of the red army behind the banner in order for us to realise the dream of achieving better benefits for our members. We need to continue to improve from what we gained in the last agreement and make sure that we defend those gains.
‘Iyaya iNumsa, iyayaaa’.
City Bokaba is a Johannesburg North local secretary
Mobilising popular mandate for collective bargaining
This year is a Collective Bargaining year for Numsa members in a number of sectors. Already we have mounted an ‘Ear to the Ground’ campaign to listen to what our members are saying as part of the process of building our mandate for these negotiations. The CC is of the view that a further process of consolidating the views of workplaces, Locals and Regions towards our National Bargaining Conference (NBC) on 16-19 April, is necessary.
The CC then calls on our regions:
• to ensure that Local General Meetings (LGMs) are held throughout the country
• to convene Local Shopsteward Councils (LSSCs) were mandates on demands for bargaining will be canvassed
• to organise Regional Policy Workshops (RPWs) so that all our regions are ready and prepared to submit to head office their demands not later than 10 April 2013.
Collective bargaining is the rock on which Numsa is founded and on which it thrives. We put huge resources and effort into our democratic process of collecting demands. There cannot be an effective collective bargaining process without the active and informed participation of the membership.