Outcome of the Numsa National Bargaining Conference 2013

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa’s) National Bargaining Conference (NBC) convened from April 16-19 April 2013, with 450 delegates from all over the country attending.

It followed a rigorous process of consultation and “Ear To The Ground Campaign” through local shop steward councils and Regional Policy Workshops since January 2013. Its purpose was to finalise Numsa’s approach to Collective Bargaining which is taking place in the majority of Numsa’s sectors.

The Conference was thoroughly briefed by officials and worker leaders on the context for this year’s bargaining and on the mood of the workforce as we approach the beginning of negotiations. The delegates to the Conference reported, without exception, that the expectations of Numsa’s members in the factories, the smelters, the auto and tyre manufacturing plants, the steel plants, the motor component manufacturing industry, the car dealers, the panel beaters and the petrol stations are extremely high.

They have responded to the extreme inequalities of the South African labour market and to recent achievements in the mining and farming industries with an expectation of substantial, transformational change in the labour market in their industries.

The Freedom Charter and the Triple Crisis:

Conference received reports on the depressed nature of the global and European economies and the structural crisis in South African society and economy. The NBC understood that our 2013 collective bargaining is only one of the pillars in our programme for the radical transformation of the white racist, capitalist, colonial foundation of the economy. This year’s bargaining round is taking place in the midst of a national crisis, caused by the failure to implement the Freedom Charter, and in particular ownership and control of our national wealth. Largely as a result of this failure, we have failed as a country to prioritise the building of a manufacturing sector, which is the only way to create the jobs we need.

Crisis and transformation:

This is a national crisis requiring a state of economic and social emergency; we believe that the State must intervene decisively to transform the foundations of the economy by implementing the Freedom Charter. We therefore put forward a programme of socio-economic change as part of the overall package that includes our collective bargaining demands.

We understand that our members have high expectations for transformation in their workplaces and in their lives; these expectations must be met by winning our socio-economic demands, as well as through collective bargaining with employers.

How we will take these demands forward:

The NBC noted that we are already engaged, with Cosatu, in our Section 77 campaign for fundamental change in macro-economic strategy; this will be our primary vehicle for achieving the broad socio-economic expectations of our members.

We will also take these demands to a meeting with the ANC leadership and relevant ministries (in particular DTI, EDD and Treasury) to present our members’ expectations to government and to ANC. We must radically transform our workplaces, but we must also radically transform our society and economy.

We must act now:

This is not something that can wait; the triple crisis is a national emergency; the working class, through Marikana, through the farm workers, through service delivery protests, has shown that we are demanding action now.

The need for structural change in the South African economy
Colonial Structure of South African Capitalism:

The structure of South African capitalism is still the structure of Colonialism of a Special Type. The white colonists who cohabited with the colonised majority joined with imperialist capital to super-exploit black and particularly African workers in order to extract and export the country’s mineral wealth.

The rest of the South African economy was built largely to serve the interests of this dominant, colonising minerals energy complex. This structure has not fundamentally changed since 1994.

The triple crisis (poverty, unemployment and inequality) comes from this distorted structure. Minerals extraction continues to dominate and its profits have not been used to fuel manufacturing industry, which would create jobs. Until we overturn the South African economy’s domination by the Minerals Energy Complex and finance capital, the triple crisis will not end.

The beneficiaries of this domination are the white South African and global capitalist class and their local agents: the co-opted black bourgeoisie both in the private sector and in the State. The victims of this domination are the black (and in particular African) working class and poor.

Reforms are not enough:

Since 1994 this foundation of Colonialism of a Special Type has evolved. Our economy is increasingly directly owned by global, imperialist capital. But their interests are no different than those of the white elite – to maximise profit from mining. They have no interest in South Africa as a country and a society. To them we are merely a node of production in a global production and financial system. As a trade union representing victims of this domination, we have no choice but to fight to destroy it.

The triple crisis cannot be solved only by reforms, however many and good they may be. It can only be solved by fundamentally restructuring this economy, deformed by Colonialism of a Special Type. This is why we talk of white monopoly capital and imperialism and the need to destroy both.

We call for an alternative, pro-working class macro-economic strategy
Nationalisation is a pre-requisite:

It is impossible to achieve the necessary restructuring of SA capitalism, or to restore the dignity of the majority, without taking into the hands of the people the mines and the banks which dominate the economy.

As democratic forces, we took state power in 1994 in order to take ownership and control of the national wealth of the country in the interests of all the people of SA, black and white, as demanded by the Freedom Charter. This requires nationalisation, under workers’ control, of all major means of production: banks, mines, telecommunications, land, food and food chains, steel, petrochemicals etc.

We reject privatisation:

We demand an end to any privatisation of Eskom, Telkom, Transnet and railway lines as envisaged in the NDP in the name of private-public partnership. Sometimes we hear it called ‘concessioning’ or ‘unbundling’, but it is just privatisation by other names. The death of Margaret Thatcher must signal the end of these Thatcherite policies.

We must use our economic power:

We have a virtual global monopoly of several key minerals so we don’t need to fear international reprisals. We have the world’s largest reserves of manganese and platinum group metals (PGMs). We have among the largest reserves of gold, diamonds, chromite ore and vanadium. We must start to flex these muscles.

There can be no compensation for nationalisation:

The NBC heard what Nelson Mandela had to say about the Freedom Charter:

“It is true that in demanding the nationalisation of the banks, the gold mines and the land the Charter strikes a fatal blow at the financial and gold-mining monopolies and farming interests that have for centuries plundered the country and condemned its people to servitude. But such a step is absolutely imperative and necessary because the realisation of the Charter is inconceivable, in fact impossible, unless and until these monopolies are first smashed up and the national wealth of the country turned over to the people…… To destroy these monopolies means the termination of the exploitation of vast sections of the populace by mining kings and land barons and there will be a general rise in the living standards of the people. It is precisely because the Charter offers immense opportunities for an over-all improvement in the material conditions of all classes and groups that it attracts such wide support.”

The NBC saw that this vision – in which the monopolies are ”smashed up” and “the national wealth…turned over to the people” – is incompatible with compensation for expropriation as contained in the Constitution. Nationalisation can only be without compensation.

The State must play a key role:

The NBC resolved that the State must play a prominent role in the economy. We must build a State Construction Company to construct infrastructure, housing, hospitals, schools, roads etc., a State pharmaceuticals company to manufacture cheap generic medicines, a State-owned steel company, through the nationalisation of Arcelor-Mittal and a State Bank. In addition, the NBC called for the State to purchase only locally produced goods and services where these are available; where they are not available, the State must build the capacity to make them available

We must prioritise beneficiation:

Profits from mineral extraction must be used to finance downstream processing and manufacturing. We must implement dual pricing of minerals – a cheap price for South African processing and a higher one for the rest of the world. We must impose an export tax on all mineral exports. We must use the power that we get from the dominance of our mineral reserves to help both processing and manufacturing industry to grow. We must prioritise the building of infrastructure to assist processing and manufacturing, not to facilitate extraction and export.

Section 77 campaign:

We are campaigning, through Section 77, for government to change its economic policy in the direction of our principles, which are the principles of the Freedom Charter. A Section 77 Notice has been submitted to Nedlac to take forward the programme of action. Cosatu has agreed to mobilise for the s77 demands through plant general meetings. Numsa will use collective bargaining to mobilise for s77, as well as to listen to our members through our ‘ear to the ground’ campaign


After the BRICS summit in Durban, we must say something briefly about BRICS. Numsa as a union supports south-south relations, especially against the backdrop of colonisation by imperialist countries. But we would be naïve if we were to think that capital is not making its nest in BRICS and looking to make profit from it at our expense. Just as states have a class character, so alliances of states have a class character. We will always struggle for a working class character for BRICS. For us there is no BRICS without the united voice of the Brazilian, Russian, Indian, Chinese, and South African workers in the interests of the working class

Our strategic and immediate socio-economic demands
Withdraw the NDP:

The National Development Plan stands against the Freedom Charter and the interests of the working class and the poor. It protects the historic and vested interests of white monopoly and imperialist capital. It continues to promise us that redistribution will come after growth when we know that growth can only come through redistribution. It presents this false road as the basis for the gradual evolution of a “New South Africa”. It is a right-wing document that will direct the wheels of history in the interests of the ruling class until 2030.

Change macro-economic strategy:

The State must use the economic levers available to it to deliberately drive industrialisation, champion sustainable development, promote decent employment creation and regional development, and break historical patterns of colonial exploitation and dependence. As part of this strategy, we must nationalise the Reserve Bank and use it to target employment creation not inflation.

From time to time we hear that there is some secret agreement that would make it dangerous for us to nationalise the Reserve Bank. We call on the Reserve Bank to immediately reveal all details of any deal that was made that could constrain this nationalisation.

Use available financial levers

We demand:
• An end to Foreign Direct Investment that does not benefit the working class and the poor:

o It must reverse super-exploitation of labour

o It must contribute to the development of downstream industries to beneficiate minerals with direct support by government; DTI must set up a national commission to ensure that FDI is not just about extraction

• An end to inflation targeting and reduction of interest rates

• Intervention to deal with our over-valued currency

• Re-imposition of capital controls

Use available trade and Industry levers

We demand:
• Tariffs to protect industries and prevent dumping

• A ban on all export of scrap metal:

o We will continue to campaign for a total ban

o We will also engage with the current government’s strategy in order to ensure that it is as effective as its limitations allow

• A ban on all export of unprocessed chrome

• A ban on import-parity pricing

o Require SASOL to make polymer-chemicals available to local industry at favourable prices

o Ensure that platinum is available at a discount for local beneficiation

• Price controls and subsidies for basic goods and services

• Amendment to the Competition Act and increase in the powers of the Commission to prevent prejudice to workers from mergers and acquisitions

• An audit of all imported goods and a requirement that companies produce and procure locally; this will help to reduce the trade deficit

• Resourcing of IPAP

• Implementation of APDP with conditions: there must be a measurable plan to require and monitor local content purchase by OEMs

Use available fiscal levers

We demand:
• An expansionary fiscal policy with:

o Progressive taxation

o Zero VAT rating of basic commodities

o Tax exemption for pension and provident funds for retrenched and low-paid workers

o Effective taxes on fringe benefits and capital gains

Reverse the investment strike

We demand:
• Urgent steps to reverse the current investment strike and export of South African capital:

o There is currently R1.2 trillion lying idle in social surplus, which employers are refusing to invest.

o These steps must include capital controls and measures aimed at prescribed investment and penalising speculation.

Defend and improve labour market standards

We demand:
• Abandonment of the three tier labour system: it is in the interests of capital; all young people who leave tertiary institutions need quality jobs that pay a living wage.

• Abandonment of the Youth Wage Subsidy: it exploits young workers, increases the tendency to retrench permanent workers and only benefits capitalists

• A total ban on labour Brokers: they cannot provide decent jobs

• An increase in the penalties for contravening the Employment Equity Act

• An end to deregulation and exemptions which allow employers outside the main centres to pay slave rates and to give no benefits at all to workers; the State must legislate and impose a national minimum wage.

Land and rural development

We demand:
• A revolutionary rural development strategy, including expropriation of land for redistribution and agrarian programmes

• Speed up of land restitution and distribution of land equally to the landless and peasant families through genuine agrarian reform and land reform.

• Control over and access to water, seed, credits and appropriate technology and training for small farmers from disadvantaged groups.


We demand:
• A public health system which is resourced to deliver a quality health service for the working class and the poor:

o Vacancies must be filled

o Public sector doctors and nurses must be well remunerated

• An end to the current public health system which requires sick people to queue for days and nights to see a doctor

• An NHI which delivers the Freedom Charter’s demands for state preventative health and free medical care:

o A public health system that serves the working class and the poor

o No privatisation of health care


We demand:
• Free primary and secondary education, in line with the Freedom Charter and with SASCO demands

• Free tertiary education in the form of a first degree/ diploma; COSATU to negotiate and campaign for this through NEDLAC

• An education system capable of achieving the skills required by society and the economy. Our education is not producing quality as can be seen in the consistently bad matric results. Cosatu must establish a team to focus on how we turn around education in the country.

• ABET provided by all employers in all sectors without loss of pay to those employees.

Housing the working class

We demand:
• That the State and employers provide quality housing for the working class and the poor:

o Housing allowances are not the answer

o We must rid our country once and for all of shacks and squatter settlements to claim back the dignity of black people in general and Africans in particular

• This housing must make a fundamental break with the inferior infrastructure provided under apartheid

• A single National Housing Corporation:

o It must obtain sufficient funds to begin a massive ongoing housing construction program, integrated into industrial policy.

o As far as practical, this housing program should involve and train unemployed labour.

• State guarantees for retirement funds to provide finance for housing; the funds must be protected so that workers’ savings do not suffer.

We will engage with the Department of Human Settlements


We demand:
• Abandonment of e-tolling:

o We support Cosatu in its total opposition to the commodification of inner city highways.

o We remain committed to a campaign to mobilise our members and community at large to resist this privatisation of roads.

• A safe, efficient, publicly-owned transport system that caters first for the needs of the working class and the poor.

Climate change and energy

We demand:
• A socially, worker owned renewable energy sector which:

o Is collectively owned under democratic control

o Includes a mix of energy parastatals, cooperatives and municipal-owned entities

o Operates on the basis of a social mandate, not profit

o Gets priority on the grid

• The designation of solar water heaters to protect and build local manufacturing capacity

Principles of Numsa Collective Bargaining 2013
Our principles
Our specific, sectoral demands are based on these collective bargaining principles:

• Close the apartheid wage gap and fight for equity and a Living Wage

• Democratise workplaces,

• Reduce excessive pay of the bosses.

• Develop the skills of the workforce that was deprived of that development during apartheid

Forward to a living wage

We will have to treat this round of collective bargaining as extremely strategic. We must secure living wages for our Numsa members; this must include closing the apartheid wage gap and achieving skills development.

At the same time we must use collective bargaining and our socio-economic demands and campaigns to secure the future of manufacturing, which is the future of our country and the future of metal workers.

Tell no lies, Claim no easy victories

"Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone's head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children". Amilcar Cabral 1965.

Issued by Numsa National Office Bearers (NOBs’)


Castro Ngobese
National Spokesperson
Cell: 081 011 1137
Tel(dir): 011 689 1702
Email: castron@numsa.org.za
Twitter: @castrongobese



1. Wages increases

1.1 R3.22 paid at Toyota to be paid to workers at other companies in the auto assembly sector in keeping with the principle of equal pay for work of equal value on an industrial basis.

1.2 20% across the board in auto assembly, tyre manufacturing, iron, steel and base metals manufacturing.

1.3 An industry minimum of R6000 per month and R30 increase per hour for those earning above R6000 in the Motor Industry Bargaining Council scope.

1.4 Entry level minimum of R12500 at Grade T4 and a R5000 across the board increase for other levels at Eskom.

1.5 Scrap the generic wage model in the New Tyre Manufacturing and related sectors, thereby also doing away with the movement of the wage model by consumer price index instead of the actually negotiated wage increases, and replace the generic wage mode by the Good Year wage model which must be adopted as an industry wage model in keeping with the principle of equal pay for work of equal value on an industrial basis.

1.6 All wage increases across all sectors must be based on actual rates of pay and actual wage increases negotiated and not on minimums.

2. The duration of the agreements to be negotiated must be limited to one year.

3. Completely ban labour brokers across all sectors.

4. Across all sectors short time and temporary lay-off must be paid in full in accordance with the wages that workers would have ordinary received had it not been of such short time and temporary lay-off. In the Motor Industry Bargaining Council specifically, short time must be subjected to negotiations and if deadlock arises there must be a dispute resolutions mechanism applied.

5. Housing finance corporations must be established across all sectors to assist and finance workers’ housing needs. There must be housing allowances in line with the sector specific situations and demands. All land owned by employers must be disclosed with such land transferred to the ownership and control of workers.

6. Transport allowance in addition to and assistances must be increased in auto assembly, Motor Industry Bargaining Council, New Tyre Manufacturing and related industries, as well as at Eskom.

7. Full payment for maternity leave for a period of six months must be paid across all sectors. Should the mother pass away during birth and within six months of birth paternity leave must be extended to six months on full pay.

8. Skills training must be expedited across all sectors. A ratio of 3 apprenticeships per artisan must be adopted across all sectors in addition to other sector specific demands on training.

9. Industry based worker controlled medical aid schemes must be established, moving away from the yoke of private medication aid administrators