Numsa marchers threaten rolling mass action

Protesters in auto sector demand implementation of pre-Covid wage deal

About 100 placard-carrying Numsa members march from Sidwell to the offices of the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) in Newton Park to hand over a memorandum of demands.
About 100 placard-carrying Numsa members march from Sidwell to the offices of the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) in Newton Park to hand over a memorandum of demands.
Image: FREDLIN ADRIAAN

“This country will come to a standstill and become ungovernable because we cannot continue to allow exploitation to run rampant in the face of poverty.”

This was the word from National Union of Metalworkers of SA Eastern Cape regional chair Andile Bloko during the Bay leg of a national march against a delay in implementing a wage increase in the automotive sector.

The agreement was struck at the beginning of the year — before the Covid-19 pandemic upended SA’s economy.

About 100 placard-carrying Numsa members marched from Sidwell to the offices of the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) in Newton Park to hand over a memorandum of demands.

The RMI is an employer association representing 8,000 out of 24,000 companies in the motor sector.

Numsa accused the body of deliberately delaying implementing an 8% wage increase agreed on at the bargaining council nine months ago.

Similar marches were held in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Attempts by The Herald to obtain comment from the RMI were not successful on Tuesday.

The protesters’ memorandum was received by RMI regional manager Erwin Stroebel in Nelson Mandela Bay.

Stroebel assured the marchers that he would send it “to the powers that be”.

Numsa’s national organiser, Mduduzi Nkosi told protesters in Johannesburg the union was determined to get workers their increases — even if it meant they had to sleep outside the RMI offices every day.

In Nelson Mandela Bay, Bloko told the marchers — from various sectors such as automotive, engineering, tyres, logistic and transport — the protest was also about getting the Motor Industries Bargaining Council (Mibco) to act in the interests of the workers.

“Going forward there will be a rolling mass action and we must continue to show the unity demonstrated here today and we must mobilise more members.

“In December, we will be going to different arms to mobilise members.

“Open your doors for us so that we bring the country to its knees.

“We will rather die in the streets than to die in silence and allow our people to be exploited,” Bloko said.

Numsa’s regional bargaining representative, Phumelele Skade, said the RMI had signed the wage agreement and but was now reneging on it.

RMI has shown us the middle finger and are now working on ensuring that the bargaining council collapses

“RMI has shown us the middle finger and are now working on ensuring that the bargaining council collapses,” Skade claimed.

“That is why we decided to take a decision nationally that today we bring these demands to RMI and give them time frames and should they fail we will create instability.

“It cannot be business as usual if members are not receiving their increases,” Skade said.

Numsa regional secretary Mziyanda Twani said employers, through the RMI, had signed the wage agreement in January.

“They must pay the increases and give a backdated increase to September 1 2020.

Those employers who have not given increases since 2019 are also urged to act accordingly so that the industry can be at peace with each other

“Those employers who have not given increases since 2019 are also urged to act accordingly so that the industry can be at peace with each other,” Twani said.

He said central to the workers’ grievances was that the bargaining council  had been rendered useless and was on the brink of collapse because of employer associations such as the RMI.

“As a result, to date Mibco does not have a general secretary and is operating on autopilot and that must come to an end.”

He said Numsa was giving the RMI 14 days, which would end on November 10, to respond to its grievances.

If it failed to do so, the union would continue marching and picketing.

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