JOHANNESBURG – The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) is threatening to lead contractors at Africa’s steel giant, ArcelorMittal South Africa (Amsa), on a sympathy strike should the company not accede to its demands to permanently place contractors.

Numsa, Amsa’s largest organised labour movement, downed tools last week demanding permanent placement of Real Tree and Monyetla Services employees, with a combined number of about 1 000 people.

Numsa’s regional secretary in Sedibeng, Mokete Makoko, said on Friday that the union intended to issue the company with a secondary strike notice that all the company’s 20 contractors would strike should it not accede to demands. “There are a number of contractors at Amsa, including cleaning and security companies, that will support a secondary strike. We want them (Amsa) to accede to our demands or hold a meeting with us,” Makoko said. 

Makoko said the union had finalised picketing rules at the Commission of Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), bringing order to the strike.

The company said Real Tree was not a labour broker but  a service provider and it believed that Numsa had not followed the provisions of the recognition agreement before bringing this demand to the company.

An Amsa company spokesperson said on Friday that it had applied for and was granted an interdict last week to prohibit Numsa and its members from blocking entrances to the various operations; preventing employees from entering or leaving company premises and threatening or intimidating any employees who choose to go to work during the strike.

“We will not tolerate any threats to the safety and wellbeing of ArcelorMittal South Africa employees and contractors,” the company spokesperson said. She also said that contingency plans were in place to ensure a limited impact on production. 

Previously, Numsa said it was taking Amsa to task after winning a landmark judgment in the Constitutional Court last year which strengthened the rights of temporary workers. 

The judgment meant that casual workers, who earned R205 000 a year and less and were employed by labour brokers, would become eligible to become permanent employees of the main employer after three months.

Amsa, the JSE-listed company, posted its first annual profit in nearly 10 years after swinging to an R1.3 billion net profit in 2018 from an R5bn loss a year earlier.

Amsa shares fell by 6.49 percent to close at R3.60 on Friday.