The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) is disgusted by the DA’s resolution to allow employees to ‘opt out’ of the National Minimum Wage if they wish to do so, in order that they may be paid less. The DA proposed at its conference over the weekend that unemployed workers would be given a Job Seekers Exemption Certificate (JSEC) to allow them to enter into contracts which would allow the employer to pay less than R3500 per month. NUMSA rejects this proposal with the contempt it deserves.
What the DA is saying is that it wants to take advantage of the poverty and desperation of unemployed workers by allowing bosses to exploit them with slave wages for a period of two years. It demonstrates what we have always said, which is that the ANC and the DA are ideologically one and the same. The ANC’s current proposal on the National Minimum Wage (NMW) already allows employers to be exempted from paying the poverty wage of R20 per hour. Clearly the DA believes that the poverty wage of R20 per hour or R3500 per month is too high and would prefer that workers work for free! The DA has always been unashamedly pro-business and it supports the rampant exploitation of African workers. They know that the poverty wage of R20 per hour will be reserved only for African labour. The employers can continue to earn massive salary packages at an average of R69 000 per day, whilst workers must exist on a measly R20 per hour. They have always defended White Monopoly Capital and it is not surprising that this is their position.
THE POVERTY WAGE OF R20 PER HOUR WILL BECOME THE BENCHMARK FOR LOW WAGES!
NUMSA is joining in this fight to protect the next generation against more exploitation. They will never forgive us for allowing their hard won right to strike to be taken away. They will never absolve us for agreeing to a National Minimum wage of R20 per hour. The NMW will become the benchmark for low wages and all workers can expect their salaries to drastically reduce once this bill becomes law. Those whose salaries are not drastically reduced can expect to be retrenched because their salaries will be deemed too high.
As it stands millions of working class South African youth are struggling to access quality education to make themselves more employable for the future. Their parents are making huge sacrifices for them to go to university and to tertiary institutions. It is shameful that after all that sacrifice, they can expect to be paid a measly R20 per hour for their hard work! It is disgraceful that the government is refusing to intervene directly in the economy to ensure that African workers earn a living wage. They have done nothing to tackle the massive wage gap between ordinary workers and CEO’s who are earning an average of R69 000 per day!
Collectively these laws are designed to create a cheap pool of African and Black labour which can easily be abused and exploited. They will also not be able to exercise their right to strike in order to improve their conditions.
THE STATE IS ATTACKING WORKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES BY LIMITING THE RIGHT TO STRIKE!
The state through the Department of Labour, and the leadership of COSATU, NACTU and FEDUSA have agreed to change the labour law to force works to ballot before a strike. These changes are being proposed as part of the amendments to the labour law. If successful, these amendments will make it impossible for workers to go on strike. The proposals also include an outrageous clause which allows bosses to be observers or witnesses during the balloting process. Thus making it easier for them to victimize workers, and preventing them from freely being able to make the choice to pursue strike action. These laws will make it impossible for workers to freely decide on strike action. They are creating obstacles to limit the right to strike and they must be stopped!
IT IS SHOCKING THAT COSATU LEADERSHIP SUPPORTS THE PROPOSAL TO LIMIT THE RIGHT TO STRIKE!
It shocking that the leadership in COSATU agreed to the proposal to limit the right to strike, when in 2016, they rejected the very same amendments. Below is an excerpt from their own statement issued by Sizwe Pamla on the 19th February where they said the following:
“The Congress of South African Trade Unions has noted with alarm and contempt the attempts by the Minister of Labour Mildred Olifant to sow confusion to the workers and the nation over the issue of strike balloting. The strike balloting issue was rejected by the unions two years ago , during the LRA amendments and COSATU wants to make it clear that it will continue to resist such a proposal in future. There is no agreement in place on this issue and any attempt to create an impression to the contrary is misleading and mischievous.”
As NUMSA we are asking ourselves how a once mighty federation which we helped to build, could sacrifice workers and their families in this way. The right to strike was paid for with the blood of the working class. It was not negotiated. Workers fought and died in order to be able to go on strike so that they could improve their lives. We are horrified that this Black government could betray workers and their families by implementing such backward policies.
NUMSA IS GEARING UP FOR MEGA NATIONAL STRIKE TO #DefendTheRightToStrike
That is why NUMSA is gearing up for a mega national general strike on the 25th of April 2018. Together with SAFTU and 20 other organisations, NUMSA will be joining workers as they go on strike to #DefendTheRightToStrike and to demand a living wage. This is the only weapon we have to fight against a government which is attacking workers and their families by changing the labour law.
NUMSA CALLS ON ALL WORKERS TO JOIN THE PROTECTED STRIKE ON THE 25TH OF APRIL
NUMSA urges all workers to join in this struggle and join the protected strike. We must withdraw our labour in order to #DefendTheRightToStrike. We are deliberately choosing to strike on the eve of Freedom Day because we must remind the state that the working class which made the ultimate sacrifice to end Apartheid, is still not free in South Africa.
We call on all workers, organised or unorganised to withdraw their labour on the 25th of April. This may be the last time we are legally able to go on a protected strike. The certificate covers all works in all sectors and it is a protected strike. We must defeat our oppressors the way we defeated Apartheid!
The struggle continues!
Issued by Andrew Chirwa
For more information:
NUMSA National Spokesperson (Acting)