Cape Town - An employer association which locked out thousands of workers who belonged to the National Union of MetalWorkers of SA (Numsa) - more than 300 of them in the Western Cape - could find itself the target of a boycott campaign by the union and Cosatu.
The National Employers’ Association of SA (Neasa) implemented a lockout of more than 1 000 workers nationwide.
The association has refused to implement a 10 percent wage increase agreed by Numsa and the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA (Seifsa). The agreement had brought to an end an almost month-long strike by Numsa members. Neasa was prepared to offer only 8 percent.
Neasa chief executive Gerhard Papenfus said the association was dissatisfied with the settlement and that it would further destabilise the industry.
“This is once again an illustration of big business’ eagerness to capitulate to the pressure exerted by trade unions,” Papenfus said.
“By giving in to the pressure from trade unions, Seifsa is once again letting the industry down, especially small and medium businesses. It has set a very sombre tone for future negotiations.”
Numsa’s national leadership was seeking legal advice about the possibility of getting a court interdict against Neasa while Cosatu Western Cape has given its support to the union and vowed to “target” companies affiliated with Neasa.
Numsa provincial secretary Vuyo Lufele said more than 300 workers in the Western Cape had been affected by the Neasa lock-out.
The union held a report- back meeting with its members in Bellville on Wednesday.
Lufele said the union was aware of 20 companies that had instituted the lock-out in the province.
Most of them were in the metro while a couple were in the Saldanha area and in the Boland.
“Some of the workers were back at work already and the companies released them,” Lufele said.
He said the lock-out was an “arrogant” reaction to the 10 percent wage agreement reached between Numsa, other unions and Seifsa.
“We want the national union to take this on and deal with this arrogance,” Lufele said.
“We can’t have a situation where a minority (employers) association dictates to the majority.
“They are not appreciating the agreement between Numsa and Seifsa.
“They are now sending us to plant-level negotiations and we will be targeting these companies.
“They have taken themselves out of the bargaining council agreement.
“We will show them what it means when they take themselves out of the bargaining structures.”
Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said Neasa had a long history of “promoting exploitative practices”.
“We are in the process of getting a list of Neasa members and will be targeting their member companies with boycotts,” Ehrenreich said.
“Cosatu supports Numsa in this important wage agreement and this victory for workers.”
Papenfus said Numsa had refused to address Neasa’s demands, which included an 8 percent increase
“Neasa employer members may continue to lock out workers who engaged in the strike. This arrangement will continue until Neasa’s demands are met,” Papenfus said.