The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) met under the auspices of the CCMA on Tuesday to discuss the strike in the Plastics sector which has been ongoing since the 15th of October. We had requested the intervention of the CCMA because we are unable to resolve the strike.
Unfortunately, we were unable to find one another with employers. We remain very far apart. We are fighting to maintain the working conditions and benefits which workers have enjoyed in the sector for decades. But we are dealing with an employer who is determined to erode those benefits in the following ways:
- The introduction of a Regional Dispensation: Plastic employers want to introduce wage differentials to workers who are employed outside the major towns i.e. Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Their proposal is that those workers must earn less 10% less than their counterparts in these 3 metro towns.
- They want to increase wages based on the minimum wage rate, instead of based on the actual wage that a person is earning.
These are the same proposals which we keep rejecting and this is why we are not making any progress in resolving this strike. We cannot accept these proposals because they will set our members back.
We cannot allow racist employers like the Plastics Converters of South Africa (PCSA) to succeed in their quest to reverse the gains made to improve the lives of African workers. The PCSA would like nothing more than for the Apartheid system to return to South Africa so that they can freely abuse African labour. If they succeed in imposing these backward proposals on the sector, it will have far reaching consequences for all workers in Engineering.
We have done everything possible to try and negotiate with the PCSA but it is futile. The only option we have now is to consult our members for a mandate on the way forward.
The unity of the working class is essential in fighting against oppression, and solidarity is one of our most sacred values as a union. We must unite to defend our rights and to defend the gains we fought for decades to achieve.
The struggle continues!
Issued by Irvin Jim
NUMSA General Secretary