JOHANNESBURG, March 19 – Following a meeting with the CCMA the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) said on Tuesday that the strike at ArcelorMittal South Africa would continue.
“The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) met with CCMA yesterday in an attempt to resolve the strike at ArcelorMittal South Africa, (AMSA). We were unable to find one another with the employer. We have no choice but to continue the strike. We are dealing with a brutal employer who does not care about workers or their rights,” said NUMSA spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola.
“Some of our members complain that the company forces them to work, even if the conditions are dangerous. Contract workers in particular, are forced to do work which endangers their lives because they are worried they will be dismissed. Some have been seriously injured as a result. The labour law explicitly allows workers to refuse work which will endanger their lives, but at AMSA, this rule is often disregarded, and workers lives are placed at risk. Like all greedy capitalist organizations AMSA puts profits before people.”
NUMSA said they had met with the CCMA on Monday and one of the major sticking points was that AMSA had refused to insource contract workers.
“Our demand is that contract workers must be insourced, because they are doing the same work as permanent employees, but they are being paid less, and they receive less benefits. They responded by saying they will only insource them after three years, but it will result in retrenchments. This is blackmail and we reject it.”
Hlubi-Majola said their members had been on strike at all AMSA operations since last week Monday. The strike was a national strike affecting all its operations including Vanderbijlpark and Vereeniging in Gauteng; Saldanah in the Western Cape and its operations in Newcastle in KZN.
“We condemn the South African Police Services and the management of ArcelorMittal for subverting workers’ rights. On Friday the SAPS, acting on instructions from management at ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA), arrested ten of our members who were peacefully picketing near the offices of the company. They falsely claimed that they had violated the picketing rules. Yesterday our attorneys intervened and released our members and the charges were dismissed by the magistrate. We view this as a gross abuse of power and harassment by the SAPS and the management of ArcelorMittal.” (ANA)