South Africa’s Economy Suffers As Union Plans New Strike

National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (NUMSA)

National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (NUMSA)

CAPE TOWN, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) — South Africa’s economy is set to suffer further blows as thousands of workers at petrol stations plan to down tools to press their demand for higher wages.

The National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (NUMSA) announced on Tuesday that a strike, scheduled for next Monday, will involve the “cheaply exploited” workers in petrol stations, components, automotive retail, panel-beaters, car and spare parts, fitment workshops, truck body and trailer builders and dealerships.

The union represents about 72,000 workers.

About 30,000 auto workers have already been on strike for more than a week. Strikes are also ongoing in the construction, energy and gold sectors.

South Africa has been reeling under waves of strikes that have dealt a heavy blow to the economy.

The mining sector is still struggling to recover from last year’s labor unrest, which led to the deaths of 44 people, including 34 mineworkers who were shot dead by police.

Economic losses from the strikes are estimated at billions of rands.

Once again, South Africa has entered the turbulent “strike season” when employers and unions are negotiating to renew work contracts.

NUMSA announced the move after mediation process failed to resolve the wage impasse between it and the employer bodies – Fuel Retailers Association (FRA) and Retail Motor Industry Organization (RMIO).

The union demands a 30 rands (about three U.S. dollars) per hour increase on actual rates of pay across the board in all sectors and divisions for all workers earning above 6,000.00 per month by 2016.

Other demands include the removal of area differentials and discriminatory clause; night shift allowance of 20 percent of normal rate of pay; and afternoon shift allowance of 15 percent of normal rate of pay.

The FRA and RMIO have rejected all the demands presented by NUMSA.

“The Union (NUMSA) as mandated by its members has taken a conscious decision to exercise our hard fought democratic and constitutional right to embark on an indefinite strike action,” union national spokesperson Castro Ngobese said.

He said the workers are prepared to unleash all their power by halting production in all the affected sectors, in order to exert pressure to the bosses for an equal redistribution of wealth at the point of production.

NUMSA is also planning marches and demonstrations next week in the provinces of Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and elsewhere. These marches will be forming part of the organizational strategy and tactic to force the employers to conceded to the workers’ demand, Ngobese said.(Xinhua)

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