Numsa to embark on auto sector strike

The pay dispute affects an estimated 30,000 workers.

FILE:Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim speaks to reporters after a meeting of the trade union's central committee in Johannesburg on 18 August, 2011. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) will embark on an indefinite national strike for higher salaries in the auto sector on Monday.

The pay dispute effects an estimated 30, 000 workers.

Numsa General secretary Irvin Jim said workers want a double-digit salary increase.

Jim said with petrol, electricity and food prices on the increase, workers are struggling to make a living.

"There is a global crisis which will not be used. Workers should not pay for this crisis because the bosses make money during a boom and still make money during troubled times. They embark on austerity measures, they retrench workers, and they don't compromise - making profits for themselves."

Workers are also demanding an improvement in housing subsidies and medical aid.

Jim says although a strike notice had been issued to employers, consultations will resume this weekend.

"The strike will resume but we are talking this weekend to see whether they can make us a tangible offer that can make us change our mind."

Meanwhile, Numsa has rejected the suspension of Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu) General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

Vavi was put on special leave by the federation's Central Executive Committee on Wednesday after admitting to having sex with a junior employee at their headquarters.

Numsa is the biggest trade union affiliated to Cosatu.

Vavi and his allies believe his ousting forms part of a wider political plot.

The union fears Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim is the next target.

Jim said there is a political conspiracy to destroy Cosatu and liquidate Numsa.

Jim said Cosatu is split ideologically.

"Independent of whether Zwelinzima Vavi remains the General Secretary of Cosatu or not, there are irreparable ideological ruptures within the federation. These ruptures are fundamentally between those who want a two class Cosatu and those who want the federation to continue to advance the interests of the poor."

He said Numsa will fight tooth and nail to make sure Cosatu doesn't turn into a lapdog.

"We are not surprised we have been having this sustained programme to ensure that Vavi is basically removed. Within both the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP) there are forces who are hell-bent and working 24 hours a day with those in Cosatu to ensure that Cosatu will be made a lap dog."