The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) says it will be consulting lawyers regarding General Motors’ (GM) announcement to pull its operations out of South Africa.
“This is the second time that GM is pulling out of South Africa‚ and as NUMSA we smell a rat. We suspect that the shareholders got a very good deal at the expense of the workers. The company has already shut down the plant and has indicated that they will meet with us to discuss the latest developments‚ but that is after the fact‚” Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said.
Numsa claims GM acted unilaterally and did not inform the union of this decision.
“As a result we are consulting lawyers to see what legal avenue we have in resolving this crisis. Isuzu will be taking over operations at GM‚ but we doubt that they will absorb all the workers who used to work at those plants.”
The US car maker announced on Thursday that it was pulling out of South Africa and Isuzu will take over the firms operations in Port Elizabeth. GM workers were informed of the decision at a meeting at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Thursday morning.
“There are over one thousand employees at GM and five hundred of those are based in the Chevrolet division. The vast majority of employees are NUMSA members. As a trade union we are surprised that GM chose to convey this announcement in this way. There was no consultation with the union‚ and furthermore‚ the company has not divulged any details about the fate of its employees affected by this restructuring. By shutting down operations in South Africa this will have a major impact not just on GM plants‚ but for companies along the value chain as well‚” Jim said..
Numsa said it is concerned that GM has already indicated that it might retrench workers and that it intends to issue section 198 and 197 notices.
“If these discussions are indeed taking place then it is likely that GM knows how many employees will be retained‚ and how many will be retrenched. We are expecting to meet with the management of GM soon to discuss these matters.
“Now that GM has made it clear that it is disinvesting in the country‚ we will also probe whether this is not an agenda by the car company to dump the remainder of its cars on the South African market. If they proceed with dumping‚ we will take up a campaign to prevent them in light of the fact that they are disinvesting in the country.
“We stand with our members during this difficult time‚” said Jim.