Numsa gears up for strike at petrol stations, dealerships

STANDING FIRM: Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim
STANDING FIRM: Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) is preparing for a strike at petrol stations, dealerships and component companies with the union requesting a date with the CCMA to finalise picketing rules.

Once a date has been set with the CCMA, Numsa will request a strike certificate from the commission.

From there the union would have to consult with workers and get a majority agreeing to a strike.

About 306,000 workers make up the three sectors.

It took Numsa about six months to receive a strike certificate and canvass workers in the airport catering services sector earlier in 2019.

Workers for Air Chefs — a subsidiary of SAA — had intended to down tools but this failed as the company received an interdict earlier in October from the Johannesburg labour court, preventing Numsa from embarking on a strike.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said the union had rejected the latest proposals from the employers in the motor sector.

This comes as talks at the Motor Industries Bargaining Council remained deadlocked for months, eventually heading to the CCMA.

The council is a broader bargaining forum that incorporates component companies and associations such as the Fuel Retailers’ Association (FRA) of Southern Africa and the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).

“We have been negotiating with employers because from July, and with every engagement, they have not made a single compromise,” Jim said.

Workers at the fuel stations and component companies were offered 6% for the first year, 5.5% for the second year and 5.5% for the third year.

Those working at dealerships were offered the Consumer Price Index plus 1.5% for the first year, and 5.5% for the remaining two years.

“We reject the proposal because it is not very different from what they have been saying since talks began. They have hardly compromised, while we have compromised a lot,” he said.

“It is for this reason that we have requested the CCMA to give us a date to discuss and finalise picketing rules.”

Jim said at the last meeting the employers had requested that conciliation at the CCMA be extended.

“They had indicated that they would be willing to look at issues affecting working conditions,” Jim said.

The demands for better working conditions included transportation or night shift allowance for fuel station workers, and reviewing the peace clause in the agreement.

The peace clause locks the union into a wage deal for three years. During that time, the union would be unable to negotiate benefits and conditions until the agreement expired.

“The condition for accepting this wage proposal is that we must drop the demands on the peace clause, and all other demands relating to working conditions,” Jim said.

“Throughout the negotiations, they have stubbornly refused to deal with issues relating to working conditions as raised by our members.

“We remain open for engagement, however, we want to make it clear that we will only engage if employers radically shift their position.

“They must demonstrate that they are genuine about improving the lives of all employees in the sector,” Jim said.

Retail Motor Industry COO Jan Schoeman said negotiations were ongoing.

“The RMI anticipates that negotiations will continue on October 23 and remains buoyant about the likelihood of a negotiated settlement in due course,” he said.

“A wage dispute declared by Numsa on August 30 is the subject of a process of conciliation under the auspices of the CCMA.

The employer parties tabled a revised wage proposal on October 11, to which Numsa has not responded by way of its own revised proposal.

 

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