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South African solidarity support for Nissan Mississippi Workers

6 June, 2013A weeklong visit to Numsa by a delegation organized by UAW in the US ended with a solidarity protest at the Japanese Embassy calling for union rights at the Nissan plant in Mississippi, USA.

Delegates from the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) including IndustriALL executive committee member Bob King and substitute member Kristyne Peter were joined by a worker and organizer from the Mississippi plant as well as a civil rights organization and community organization lending support to the campaign. But it was actor and activist Danny Glover, committed to raising awareness of the situation of US workers at the Nissan plant, that stole the show.

Hugely popular in South Africa, Danny Glover was well received by the public and media. He met with South African President Jacob Zuma and together with the rest of the delegation, was received also by several other government officials as well as those from the ruling party, the African National Congress.  

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) hosted the delegation in South Africa and organized several opportunities to engage with unionists and workers. Accompanied by Numsa, the delegation met with management of the Nissan plant in South Africa.

They spoke positively of their relationship with Numsa and said that they would put our concerns to the company in Japan,

said Peter.

Peter said that they had encountered this around the world, where Nissan has good relations with unions that organize at their plants. All except in the United States.

Whilst in Cape Town the delegation met with IndustriALL affiliate, the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union. "What made the Cape Town trip extra special was that President of the Australian Workers Union, Paul Howes, also an IndustriALL Exco member, made the effort to come to our press conference where he reaffirmed Australian workers’ solidarity to Nissan workers in Mississippi.”

Numsa organised a picket outside the Japanese Embassy on 4 June to call on the apenese government to reach out to Nissan and ensure it behaves as a good global corporate citizen. Demands of protestors included that Japanese owned car manufacturer Nissan must end union bashing in Mississippi, respect worker rights and end exploitative conditions including the lack of job security for its temporary workers.

“Nissan employs a high percentage of temporary workers who for years receive less pay, have limited benefits and have no job security,”

Said Numsa spokesperson, Castro Ngobese. 

Nissan can do better!