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Numsa holds nationwide mass meetings

Numsa’s more than 320,000 members were expected to debate the strikes in the automotive industry.

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

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) says its 52 branches across the country on Saturday convened mass meetings to debate pressing challenges facing the union.

Numsa's more than 320,000 members were expected to debate the strikes in the automotive industry this year, the suspension of Zwelinzima Vavi, divisions in Cosatu and its support of the ANC.

The mass meetings were held ahead of the union's planned special congress in December.

Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim said "today there will be, across the length and breadth of the country in a number of regions, mass general meetings where workers are basically debating and reflecting on their challenges".

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY STRIKE

Earlier this month Numsa accepted a 10 percent wage hike in the first year and eight percent in the next two years to end a month long strike in the automotive industry.

However, it also emphasised the issue of a three year peace plan proposed by employers, which was a major contention point.

More than 40,000 workers had downed tools, bringing the country's automotive industry to its knees.

The strike cost the industry an estimated R600 million a day.

At the time, The Retail Motor Industry (RMI) warned that the collapse of the collective bargaining unit of the automotive industry would lead to anarchy in the workplace.

The forum negotiated with workers for higher wages and allowances on behalf of 18,000 companies.

But Numsa threatened to collapse it following unsuccessful talks and a lengthy strike.

The union claimed that employers used the bargaining unit to claim they cannot afford wage hikes.

RMI CEO Jakkie Olivier responded by saying that as far as they were concerned the Bargaining Council was good for both labour and business.