The Plastics Convertors Association of SA had obtained an interdict on Friday against the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and its office-bearers that barred them from engaging in acts of violence, intimidation and vandalism at member companies, it said.
This was because the sector was excluded from the strike as it reached a wage settlement between employers’ associations and unions a day before the Numsa strike in the metal fabrication industry started, Johan Pieterse, the association’s chief executive, said on Friday.
The wage settlement means a strike by Numsa in the plastics industryis unprotected.
Pieterse said the association was now preparing another application to interdict the unprotected strike itself but this required it to first give Numsa a 48-hour notice for its members to return to work.
He said the plastics industry, through the association, the National Employers’ Association of SA, the Border Industrial Employers’ Association had reached an agreement with unions Solidarity and the SA Equity Workers Association on June 30 on an 8 percent salary increase without having to suffer a lengthy or destructive industrial action.
The parties signed a two-year agreement that entails an 8 percent increase during the year that started on July 1. The second year’s increase will be equal to the average annual increase in the consumer price index (CPI) plus 1 percentage point. Should CPI rise more than 8 percent or less than 5 percent, negotiations will be reopened.
“This strike and picketing is therefore completely illegal and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”
He said various incidents of violence, intimidation and vandalism at plastic manufacturing sites around the country were reported on Thursday.
Pieterse said plastic manufacturers in South Africa were battling for survival due to the threat of cheap imports from the Far East and high electricity, operating and labour costs. He said a double-digit increase plus the losses suffered in a strike would have a potentially disastrous effect on the industry.
“For this reason, reaching an agreement with the unions was seen as a victory for both employers and employees in the plastics industry at large. Not only were we hoping that thousands of workers would retain their jobs, but more job opportunities would be created.
“However, all these plans have now been threatened due to the unlawful strike action.”
Pieterse said the ongoing strike could have a very negative impact on the cost of plastic packaging.
This would ultimately mean that the consumer would pay more for daily essentials such as milk and other dairy products, bread, fruit, vegetables, beverages and other groceries, which were packaged in order to extend their shelf life, prevent breakage and increase appeal.