IndustriALL affiliate in South Africa, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), is demanding a fair deal for the 1,500 strong workforce after General Motors announced its disinvestment from the country by the end of 2017.
A planned retrenchment of 589 out of 1,500 workers will have dire effects.
An employee who has worked at GM's Struandale plant in Port Elizabeth for more than 25 years, said it will be difficult for him to look after his four school going children if he loses his job.
“This employer is brutal. We are devastated. Our morale is down. It’s difficult to go to work knowing that soon you will be out of employment.”
The metalworkers’ union is “disgusted” by the American automotive company’s “devious and underhanded” treatment of workers. It wants “full disclosure” of the deal with the Japanese carmaker, Isuzu, which is buying the manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth.
Numsa said thousands of jobs are at risk in this job-loss bloodbath. Losses will also be felt along the supply chain which included tyre manufacturing and motor vehicle components.
Other jobs under threat were in GM’s 132 dealerships, of which only 90 will be taken over by Isuzu.
The union points out that GM is not acting in “good faith” as it neither consulted Numsa nor the government on its decision to retrench as required by the law.
To ensure a better deal for workers, Numsa is discussing the retrenchments with GM. The Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration will mediate in the talks.
Numsa, which attributes GM’s action to global capital’s attack on workers, has written to the company about possible alternatives to the retrenchments. These include skills training and placement of workers in other jobs.
“This is a plan which is fully supported by the new federation - the South African Federation of Trade Unions - as well as our global union, IndustriALL."
Fabian Nkomo, IndustriALL Regional Secretary for Sub Saharan Africa said the proposed plan should ensure fair compensation to the affected workers.