Statement on the Outcomes of a Meeting Between Labour and Steel Industry CEOs on the Looming Jobs Bloodbath in the Sector

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) led by its General Secretary cde Irvin Jim, held a bilateral meeting with the Steel industry CEOs and employer bodies, yesterday Tuesday 11 August 2015, in Central Johannesburg, Gauteng province.
The bilateral meeting was an initiative of Numsa jointly with our sister unions in the industry, namely Solidarity and UASA – The Union, amidst the looming jobs loss bloodbath in this strategic sector of our economy. We had called the meeting fully aware that the job loss bloodbath is an attack on the manufacturing base of our economy.
The meeting agreed that these pending job losses are going to have a devastating impact on local communities, approximately close to 75% of working class and poor households in the Vaal and Newcastle areas depends on the steel industry for their survival and livelihoods. Already our ailing economy is bleeding and jobs are being shed on a high scale, whilst those lucky enough to have a job are faced with the socio-economic burden of looking after the large army of the unemployed that is ravaged by squalor and poverty in poor and working class communities and former Bantustan areas.
Whilst the focus is more on the job losses in mines, the truth of the matter is that the looming job losses in the steel industry are going to be far greater.
The meeting was characterised by openness and frank discussions in our common endeavors to save massive jobs that might be shed in this strategic backbone of our economy. The meeting provided a solid base for all the parties to solicit and develop a shared understanding of the crisis and finding common approaches to be explored with the intention of lobbying government for necessary and decisive intervention.
We have agreed to work together to defend the steel industry and stop the job loss bloodbath. The meeting has set-up a Task Team (TT), composed of Labour and Industry representatives to develop a detailed submission and concrete proposals to be tabled with Government. A number of meetings are being planned with all industry players, particularly Government. The meeting firmly believed that through collective efforts and Government’s involvement a solution must be found to save this industry from collapsing.
Lastly, whilst as Labour [Numsa, Solidarity and UASA] we appreciate the fruitful deliberations and joint commitments made with industry CEOs and employer bodies, we shall not hesitate to use a two-pronged strategy to defend jobs in the interest of workers, but we shall be organising mass pickets and demonstrations to highlight the brutal plight faced by workers in the industry. This strategy is in line with Labour’s traditional approaches: “what has not been won in the boardroom; shall be won on the streets”.

Castro Ngobese
Numsa: National Spokesperson
Mobile: +2783 627 5197
Twitter: @castrongobese
Marius Croucamp
Solidariteit: Deputy General Secretary
Mobile: +2783 454 6018
Johan Van Niekerk
UASA – Trade Union:  Metal and Specialist Sector
Mobile: +2783 282 5673
Ollie Madlala
Communications Manager: Seifsa
Mobile: +2772 795 9644