The nationwide strike by Numsa (National Union for Metal Workers of South Africa) members looks to continue unabated.
A response from AMEO (Automobile Manufacturers Employers Organisation) has confirmed that there remains a huge disparity between the workers’ demands and the current offer from employers.
With a march expected in Kwazulu-Natal today and further demonstrations in the Eastern Cape looming, workers have stuck to their demands for a 15 per cent across-the-board wage increase, a 100 percent lay-off payment and the scrapping of labour brokers. In addition, there have also been demands for employers AMEO to reduce working hours to eight hours a day from Monday to Friday and make provision for six months of paid maternity leave.
Given the employers’ current offer of a 7% wage increase without benefits and a successful negotiation does not look imminent despite further planned meetings between a concerned AMEO and Numsa.
Were the workers’ demands to be met, industry employers would face an overall cost increase of more than 30 percent. Yet, the effects of a continued strike run even deeper than the loss of 2 100 cars per day across seven major plants including BMW, Toyota and Volkswagen – with AMEO stating that the industry contribution to the country’s GDP to be between 6 to 7%, it is the local economy that stands to suffer.
In an industry that has become increasingly export dependent, 50 per cent of the cars not being produced due to Numsa’s strike were destined for markets abroad.
While the workers deserve to have their voices heard and their concerns addressed, their demands also need to be placed in the context of the current South African market’s standing – a market still in an early stage of recovery after the dramatic economic downturn of 2007 – 2009.
With Numsa reporting “100% support from its members at all seven original equipment suppliers”, the situation yesterday became heated as workers claimed police intimidation at the Toyota Prospecton plant in Isipingo, south of Durban.
It is certainly a concerning state of affairs for the industry and one which we can only hope reaches a resolution which compensates best for the needs of both parties.