High expectations as the motor industry starts bargaining

The national shopstewards’ council (NSSC) that took place on the last weekend of February in preparation for the motor industry bargaining in May renews workers’ dashed hopes.

“We have wage and bonus issues to negotiate on, as well as the demands of the NSSC,” said the motor bargaining representative, Reginald Ntozini.

When motor industry bargaining has been held in the past, the hopes of employees fade, as they claim to have achieved nothing from the decisions taken.

For that reason the motor industry main agreement seems to be the least favoured by workers employees, as it seen as slowing down transformation in the industry.

“The motor main agreement should be re-written as it is against workers; it is inferior to those of the auto and engineering industries in terms of remuneration,” said Sivuyile Ngeno, a shop steward at Top Trailer.

Another shop steward from Marcopolo, Lazarus Ralepelle, said: “The agreement supports mainly whites.”

This was echoed by Thembile Livi from Ekurhuleni, who confirmed that motor industry employers are still conservative, resulting in a preference for white artisans over blacks.”

Ralepelle hopes the agreement will not be signed, mainly because of the compromises it makes on strikes. A proper agreement would tackle serious issues such as job security and work conditions, as well as lasting for one year.

The National Skills Accord sets a target for the number of artisan trainees, which must be reached each year after 2011. However, there is no monitoring of performance, and Ntozini said that employers are not serious about training for selfish reasons.

In 2011, 56% of artisan trainees were expected to come from the private sector including the motor industry. However, it seems that no one has established whether the target has been reached, nor has anyone compared the number of black and white artisans who have been trained. If this was done, problems in sector might improve.

The slight recovery from the recession might put the industry in a better position in regard to short-time, lay-offs and retrenchments.

“The challenge right now is to recruit more members, since Misa and Numsa together represent less than 50% of workers in the industry,” said Livi.

Zwiitwaho Raidani is Numsa membership administrator, Ekurhuleni