Numsa members down tools at South 32
Over 600 members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) have embarked on a strike at the South 32 aluminium smelter in Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal.
Numsa KZN regional chairperson Mbuso Ngubane said that the workers had downed tools on Saturday morning because they were “fed up with the bosses’ attempts to rob workers of their hard-earned increase”.
The union is demanding a 7.5% increase as part of a one-year wage deal – but 8.2% for the lowest-earning workers. It also wants South 32 to contribute towards medical aid and provide a R5‚000 housing allowance to workers. Other demands include a 20% performance bonus for all employees and equal pay for equal work. The union said in some cases‚ the salary gap between workers doing the same work was “as wide as R200‚000” per annum.
“Numsa’s collective agreement should be extended as a collective agreement to all trade unions as we are in the majority‚” Ngubane said.
He said South 32 was refusing to increase salaries. “Instead‚ it wants to lock workers into a 3 year deal‚ and they are attempting to bribe them out of demanding basic benefits‚” he said.
Ngubane said that the company was offering an increase of 5.1% in year one‚ with workers receiving no increase in year two‚ but they would receive the equivalent of R3‚083 per month (R37‚000 minimum) as a cash payment.
“Year three they are offering an increase in line with CPI only.
“In order to buy the deal workers must be willing to drop all other demands in exchange for R10‚000.” He said that option two of South 32’s proposal was: - For the next 3 years no increase on the actual salary‚ the salary remains static. But workers receive a once off minimum cash payout of R100‚000. - In order to buy the deal workers must be willing to drop all other demands in exchange for R10‚000.
“We view South 32’s offer of R10‚000 to drop the other demands for allowances as a nothing more than a bribe. It is not designed to improve the basic conditions of our members. Furthermore a payout of R100‚000 is insulting because it translates to only R2‚700 per month for 3 years! It will not fundamentally improve the lives of workers and their families‚” Ngubane said.