The Labour Court in Johannesburg will decide on Friday whether to grant an urgent interdict to block a strike in the plastics industry. Picture:Ayanda Ndamane/ African News Agency ANA

JOHANNESBURG - The Labour Court in Johannesburg will decide on Friday whether to grant an urgent interdict to block a strike in the plastics industry, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has said.

Numsa said it was in the labour court on Wednesday to oppose an application by the Plastic Convertors of South Africa (PCSA) to request an urgent interdict to block the strike. 

"They are trying to use the courts to silence our members from protesting about their conditions through strike action," the union said in a statement on Friday. "The court has not yet handed down judgment in this matter and the decision on whether to grant the interdict will be made on Friday.

"We repeat that the decision to apply for an urgent interdict is nothing more than an attempt by employers to intimidate our members. Our strike is a legal strike. We have followed all the processes. The employers are losing money because we are affecting production and this is why they are taking us to court. 

"They care only about profits and they are not interested in engaging meaningfully with our demands. We condemn the PCSA and the plastic employers for this backward mentality. We would not be on strike in the first place if they had chosen to take our demands seriously when we highlighted them way back in 2016."

The union said: "It is outrageous that they can claim that our strike is illegal when we have been trying to engage with them on these issues."

The union added that workers in the plastics sector faced a major reduction in wages, as well as the removal of benefits and conditions which took years to negotiate under the Metals and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council, the MEIBC. 

"Under the MEIBC workers receive a minimum R40 per hour wage; they are paid for overtime and they are eligible for a bonus. Now the employers in the Plastics sector want to take all this away from them. They have always fought against any progressive benefits and wages for workers which is why they formed their own bargaining forum. They want to be able to freely and legally be able to abuse and exploit workers."

 - African News Agency (ANA)