Motor industry strike starts

Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) working at petrol stations, workshops and motor dealerships downed tools on Wednesday, a union official said.

“Nothing has changed. The strike is going ahead,” Numsa spokesperson Castro Ngobese told the South African Press Association.

He said it was impossible to say how many members were involved, but explained the union had 70 000 members across the country. They work as fuel attendants, or in workshops, dealerships and engineering, among others.

Talks were continuing with the Retailers Motor Industry (RMI) and Fuel Retailers Association (FRA) to resolve the impasse.

“Talks are continuing tonight [Wednesday],” Ngobese said.

Numsa’s demands included a 20% wage increment across the board as well as a 40-hour week with full pay.

The union wanted a one-year bargaining agreement to be put in place beginning on September 1 2010, and ending on June 30 2011.

“Our demands to the RMI and FRA are consistent with the African National Congress’ electoral commitments of creating decent work and sustainable livelihoods for the workers and the poor,” the union said in a statement on Tuesday.

A march would take place in Bellville in the Western Cape where a memorandum of demands would be handed over to the RMI.

FRA chief executive Reggie Sibiya said on Tuesday the gaps between what it could offer and Numsa’s demands were “too huge”.

He said they had introduced a “huge wage adjustment” of 68% in 2007 to bring the industry in line with minimum living-wage expectations.

This was followed by above-inflation increases in 2008 and 2009.
While the strike would reportedly affect service at petrol stations, Sibiya said no garages would be closed.

“Not everybody is part of the union so garages will not close.”

He said the FRA had signed an agreement with the union preventing intimidation and victimisation. - Sapa

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