Tyre workers strike over pay

UP IN ARMS: Striking workers protest outside Continental Tyre yesterday. Picture: EUGENE COETZEE
UP IN ARMS: Striking workers protest outside Continental Tyre yesterday. Picture: EUGENE COETZEE

NUMSA-affiliated workers at Continental Tyre South Africa in Port Elizabeth downed tools this week, demanding the company pay them according to what they said was a bargaining council agreement reached in 2010.

The strike enters its third day today after National Union of Metalworkers of SA members stopped work on Tuesday.

Yesterday, about 250 Numsa members picketed outside the company’s Sidwell plant, demanding time-and-a-half payment for working on Saturdays and double rates for Sundays.

But Continental Tyre human resources general manager Attie Higgs said yesterday the bargaining council had referred the issue back to plant level so that companies and unions would reach an agreement for weekend payments.

The workers sang struggle songs and danced while carrying placards which read, “Stop maximising profit by using cheap labour”.

Numsa regional secretary Phumzile Nodongwe said Continental was reluctant to implement a 2010 industry agreement, which he claimed required workers to be paid time-and-a-half on Saturdays and a double rate on Sundays.

“We have spoken with the employer, but the company does not want to listen. That is why the workers decided to go on a strike. There are no negotiations yet, but Continental put in a proposal that is still the same as before we went on strike. Their proposal says workers must be paid at a normal rate on Saturdays and time-and-a- half on Sundays.

“The only thing that can resolve this is for the employer to implement the 2010 tyre agreement. If not, they must come up with another alternative.”

Higgs said officials would meet with the union today. “We have been operating like this for the last five years, because the agreement they are talking about was referred to plant level. We have been paying those who worked on Saturday and Sunday overtime during the week.

“We want to engage with the employees, obviously, because there is a cost component to the strike.

“They want us to pay additionally without getting an additional tyre,” Higgs said. – Mkhululi Ndamase


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