The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) welcomes the decision by the North Gauteng High Court to dismiss the attempt by the Metal Recyclers Association (MRA) to stop the implementation by the Ministry of Economic Development of a directive and policy guideline that force scrap metal exporters to consider domestic users as purchasers of first choice; at a 20% discount of the internationally-determined market price.
In the matter that MRA took to court against the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) and the Ministers of Economic Development, Trade & Industry and Water and Environmental Affairs; NUMSA intervened as the Third Respondent and intervening party in support of the directive and guidelines. NUMSA’s support was based on the huge number of jobs lost in South Africa as a result of the unfettered export of scrap metal at “export parity prices”. The policy and practice of basing the costs of ferrous and non-ferrous waste and scrap metals on “export parity prices”, has led to the closure of mini-steel mills, foundries and smelters as local industry could not afford the prices determined internationally. As a union, we fully agreed with Minister Patel that “The government had an obligation to make policy to curb practices which resulted in over 10 000 job losses".
NUMSA is thrilled that the court found no basis for urgency in the MRA application that the directive infringed on the recyclers’ rights to trade and in the association’s spurious claim that implementation of the guidelines that stipulate that scrap metal which is due for export should be offered on the domestic market first, would cause irreparable harm to the sector. As argued in court, a price preference system in relation to domestic sale of scrap metal existed in South Africa between 1987 and 1996. But making NUMSA happier is the balanced view of the judge that in place of MRA’s one-sided view of “irreparable harm”, he agreed with NUMSA “that the continued loss of employment and supply of recycled scrap metal products is a public interest matter which should supersede the alleged harm experienced by MRA members…”
Now that a court of law has declared that the country’s legislation confers on Ministers the “authority and power to develop and implement economic policy relating to exportation of goods from South Africa”, NUMSA will henceforth move forward with its campaign for export taxes on strategic minerals like chrome ore. The issue of a socio-economic strike in support of an introduction of export taxes on strategic minerals is on the agenda of our Special National Congress scheduled for 13-16 December 2013.
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