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Pretoria - Thousands of workers in the motor industry, who include petrol attendants, will embark on a strike on Monday, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said.
“Regrettably, employers took a very irresponsible stance by pulling back from the engagements which were intended to avert the strike,” general secretary Irvin Jim said on Sunday.
Employer organisations, the Fuel Retailers’ Association and the Retail Motor Industry, have been given notice of the strike.
“Employers were unhappy with Numsa’s decision to issue a 48-hour notice to strike,” he said.
The strike would see thousands of petrol attendants, workers at components retailers, panelbeaters, car and spare parts dealers, fitment workshops, and dealerships down tools.
Numsa demanded a R30-an-hour pay increase across the board in all sectors by 2016 for workers earning more than R6 000, a night-shift allowance of 20 percent of the normal rate of pay, and an afternoon shift allowance of 15 percent.
Deputy secretary general Karl Cloete said the industry had about 300 000 workers, of whom 70 000 are Numsa members.
A petrol attendant earned R700 a week, he said.
Numsa also announced that striking workers at five of seven vehicle manufacturing plants would go back to work on Monday.
The strike saw production lines at major vehicle manufacturers – that included Toyota, BMW and Nissan – shut down and production halted during the three week strike.
However, workers at Toyota in Durban and BMW in Pretoria were unhappy with the offer, the union said.
Numsa said it had not been established yet whether workers at the two plants would also return to work on Monday as negotiations with them were still continuing.
Workers at Toyota had secured an adjustment last year, and now wanted more, said Jim.
At BMW, the employees, who had already embarked on a strike before the rest of the industry joined in, demanded that their shift allowance be increased.
“Numsa office bearers are working with our members at Toyota and BMW to accept the offer,” said Jim.
The deal included an 11.5 percent increase for this year and a 10 percent increase for next year and 2015. It also entails a R1 200 transport allowance a year, a 70 percent medical allowance and a R750 housing allowance.
Meanwhile, Numsa on Sunday stepped up its onslaught against ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, calling him a “factionalist” who is campaigning for its isolation.
Numsa was reacting to Mantashe’s remarks about its general secretary Irvin Jim, whom he described as a lone voice within labour federation Cosatu.
Jim and Mantashe have been trading harsh words after falling out over Cosatu’s suspension of its general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.
Jim is one of Vavi’s vocal supporters in Cosatu.
He has repeatedly accused Mantashe of taking sides.
But the ANC leader dismissed this claim as public rants from a “howler”.
“The ANC secretary general has now shown his true factional colours when he defined the Numsa general secretary as a lone voice within Cosatu and ostensibly within Numsa,” Jim said at a press conference in Joburg on Sunday.
“We have repeatedly stated that once the Numsa constitutional structures have resolved on any matter, the Numsa general secretary becomes the champion of such decisions.”
Jim said Mantashe chose to campaign for his isolation “instead of engaging with the neoliberal National Development Plan which would be disastrous for the working class and poor if it becomes the foundation of the ANC’s election manifesto”.
Jim added: “We reject with the contempt it deserves the endeavour to isolate Numsa and its leadership.”
Mantashe could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
The Gauteng SACP defended Mantashe, saying it strongly condemned “unprincipled attacks” against the party and the ANC leaderships by Jim.
It challenged Jim to back up his claims that senior tripartite alliance leaders had plotted Vavi’s suspension, or to shut up.
“The PEC (provincial executive committee) strongly condemned these strange phenomena of making serious but unsubstantiated allegations against senior leaders of the movement,” the Gauteng SACP said.
Jim said Numsa members – including car dealership workers and petrol attendants – would embark on a national strike on Monday. Numsa is demanding a minimum wage of R6 000 a month or R30 an hour from July 1, 2016. It has organised strikes in Cape Town, Joburg and other areas throughout the week.
Last month, Cosatu announced that Vavi had been put on special leave pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing relating to an affair he had with a junior Cosatu employee.
The employee was also placed on special leave.