Towards the end of the second week of the Metal Industry strike, the National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA) is challenging NUMSA to show its real strength by seeing to it that the strike is conducted peacefully.
‘If it was not for violence and intimidation, the strike would have been completely sterile. If NUMSA claims that this is not the case, bring an end to the violence and intimidation, comply with the law and thereby level the bargaining playing field, ‘ says Gerhard Papenfus, NEASA Chief Executive.
Over the last two weeks NEASA has been inundated with complaints by member companies affected by not only the strike action, but many who have been subjected to extreme intimidation, where their workers who wanted to return to work were prevented to do so.
‘If NUMSA succeed in their call on striking workers to desist from intimidating non-striking workers, if they succeed in convincing their members to engage in the peaceful withholding of their labour, allowing workers who want to return to work, to do so, and the strike is still successful, then we will be able to really determine NUMSA’s popular support,’ Papenfus said.
According to Papenfus there are indications that even trade unions involved in the Metal Industry, who initially supported the strike but no longer do so, and whose members now want to return to work, cannot do so out of fear of being harmed by NUMSA members.
‘Employers bowing to the unlawful violence and intimidation are creating a bleak future for themselves. The repeated surrendering to unlawful action has created a Metal Industry in self-destruction mode, an Industry on a downward slope. We are now paying dearly for those cosy deals between weak employer representatives, big business and big trade unions, over decades, which has brought a once mighty Industry to the brink of destruction. Instead of being the a prominent job-creator, the Metal Industry has become a liability for South Africa,’ Papenfus said.
NEASA believes the same modus operandi is playing itself out during this round of negotiations.
‘The same model of self-destroying negotiations is once again taking place in these negotiations. The same big employers are pushing for a deal at all cost. They are the same big businesses who unashamedly say that they will be satisfied with an unaffordable deal by introducing measures afterwards that will result in retrenchments and mechanisation. They are the employers now forcing a deal which they eventually, through the help of the Minister of Labour, will attempt to enforce on struggling small businesses who do not have the same operational capacity. This is immoral on each and every count. NEASA’s conscience and our moral obligation towards South Africa refuse to identify with this dishonesty,’ Papenfus said.
NEASA appeals to big business not to forget the interests of smaller players in the industry when pushing for a deal.
‘There rests an obligation on the representatives of organisations, driven by the influence of big business, to canvass the views of unsuspecting small employers within their ranks, before a deal is made with NUMSA-led trade unions,’ Papenfus said.
NEASA has already indicated that they will challenge in court any deal between NUMSA and SEIFSA if any attempt is made to enforce such a deal upon them by the Minister of Labour.
For more information:
Sya van der Walt-Potgieter
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