The South African Federation of Trade Union gives its full support to the strike by NUMSA members in the plastics sector. SAFTU can see that this strike is not just based in one sector but is a response to an emerging pattern among all employer associations to try to paralyze bargaining councils and sabotage attempts to reach any collective agreements.
Every worker therefore has a interest in helping NUMSA to prevent the employers’ organisations being able to claim a victory, which would set a precedent for others and lead to all workers facing the imposition of lower wages and worse conditions.
A victory for NUMSA on the other hand will be a victory for all workers and will herald a new fightback against ruthless and greedy employers.
SAFTU has therefore convened a special meeting of all its affiliates’ leaders to plan for solidarity action and mobilize their members to take action when called upon.
The federation fully agrees with NUMSA’s memorandum of 16 October 2018 to employer bodies in the plastics sector – the National Employers Association of South Africa (NEASA) and the Plastic Convertors Association of South Africa (PCSA) who want to undermine the wages and benefits which generations of workers have fought for, with their blood, sweat and tears. It read as follows:
- We will fight to the bitter end to defend our hard won benefits and wages!
- Until 2016, workers in the Plastics sector have been able to receive the same rights and benefits as workers in Engineering. This did not happen by accident, or because of the charitable feelings of employers. This happened because NUMSA fought for more than two decades in the Engineering bargaining forum, the MEIBC for workers to get improved benefits and wages.
- We reject and will fight to the bitter end, any efforts to downgrade the benefits and wages which we have fought so hard for, from any quarter.
- All workers in general and our members in particular who continue to suffer inferior racist colonial wages and conditions cannot afford to have their benefits and wages downgraded in the current economic climate in South Africa.
- Everyone knows that the cost of living in South Africa has shot up, and reached crisis proportions. Black and African workers who continue to struggle under racist, colonial inferior wages and benefits are the hardest hit.
- It must be employers with special sadistic instincts who may, in our current working class hostile economic conditions in the country, decide to downgrade wages and benefits of workers, any workers, let alone the black and African working class.
- We are aware that the introduction of the Poverty National Minimum Wage by the ANC led government, has given many racist employers the courage to undermine hard won adjustments to wages and benefits.
- We know that employers who are paying above the so called National Minimum Wage now want to reduce wages lower and or remove these benefits altogether.
- Through the hopelessly useless National Minimum Wage, the ANC government has given especially racist bosses the courage to super exploit and abuse workers even more.
- These racist bosses are very happy that the ANC government will reduce the power of the working class through the proposed amendments to the Labour Law which, among others things, seek to make it very hard for workers to embark upon legal strikes.
B. Our Demands
- Grade H, (which is the lowest grade) minimum wage must revert back to R40 per hour.
- Leave Enhancement Pay (bonus) must be reinstated.
- We demand a 40 hour working week.
- We demand overtime pay for any extra hours worked above 40 hours per week.
- We demand that the Leave Entitlement of 4 weeks be reinstated, and the 4th week if you have 4 years’ service must be reinstated.
- We reject the introduction of Area Category whereby outlying areas will be paid 10% less than urban areas (JHB, DBN and CPT).
No one should underestimate the fight we shall put up to win these demands!
Our demands are simple, just and doable!
We as NUMSA will not sit idly by and watch our hard won benefits and wages watered down, even as the economy continues to punish the working class through crisis levels of the cost of living!
We reject the racism and backwardness which the downgrading of our wages and benefits represent.
We shall continue to unite and rally behind all the workers to support their brothers and sisters in the Plastics sector who are fighting to retain the wages and benefits which they have fought so hard for. It is unfair and immoral that they should be unilaterally denied these benefits. They are the creators of wealth and deserve a living wage and an improved quality of life.
An injury to one is an injury to all!
Workers united will never be defeated!