10 September, 2012Despite attempts by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), Dunlop management have been unwilling to return to the negotiation table to resolve a strike entering into its third week.
The 300 Numsa members at Dunlop in Howick, Kwa Zulu Natal have been on strike since 22 August after their demands for a two year agreement with an increase of 10 per cent in the first year and 9 per cent in the second year were not met. Workers are also demanding two weeks bonus pay and two weeks severance pay for each year that they have worked for the company.
“We strongly believe that these demands by workers are reasonable and legitimate,” says Numsa’s Kwa Zulu Natal Regional Secretary, Mbuso Ngubane, “We refuse to allow members to be subjected to starvation and poverty wages.”
The striking workers are made up of permanent and casual workers. Casual workers employed through labour brokers by Dunlop is increasing, which is of great concern to Numsa. “Employment of a sizeable number of workers through labour broker continues to plunge Dunlop workers to unbecoming conditions,” claims Ngubane, “therefore we commit to fight for their permanent employment.”
Dunlop has responded to the strike by employing scab labour and has refused to return to the negotiation table. The company has also employed heavily armed private security, which Numsa claims is a tactic to intimidate and threaten striking workers.
Since the incident at Lonmin where police shot and killed 34 striking workers, there has been a high deployment of police at the strike, which Numsa has described as an exaggeration and a provocation at a very tense time for labour relations in South Africa.
Ngubane speaks of memories this evokes, “This newly found deployment of police officers is no different from the apartheid past experiences where police were irresponsibly used to protect the interests of the capitalist bosses.” He believes that the reaction of the police is unwarranted as the strike has been characterised by a high level of discipline and maturity by workers.