Mpact’s paper recycling plant in Springs. Mpact says striking workers at Mpact Plastics in Pinetown are employees of an independent service provider, which is in wage negotiations with the National Union of Metalworkers of SA.Photo: Antoine de Ras
JOHANNESBURG - Mpact, which was spun out of Mondi, said on Friday that it was not involved with wage negotiations with the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa). The company was responding to reports that its workers in Pinetown had gone on a strike following a breakdown in negotiations.

Mpact said the striking workers belong to an independent service provider to Mpact Plastics. “Mpact Plastics operation in Pinetown is not in wage negotiations with Numsa,” the group said.

Paul Visagie, a general manager of Mpact Plastics: FMCG, said Mpact Plastics concluded its wage negotiations through the appropriate structures, the Plastics Negotiations Forum (PNF), falling within the scope of registration of the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC).

The PNF is an exclusive forum representing manufacturers within the plastics sector for the negotiation of conditions of employment for the plastics industry, falling within the scope of registration of the MEIBC, an industry-based forum of organised business and labour that regulates employment conditions and labour relations in the metal and engineering industry.

The group said it was an independent service provider that was providing packing services to the company’s plastics operation in Pinetown to Mpact Plastics that was in wage negotiations with Numsa.

“We are hoping for a speedy resolution between the service provider and their protesting employees, whom we consider to be our partners. At this point, Mpact has sufficient stock levels to continue to service our customers as usual,” Visagie said.

Mpact operates in paper and plastics businesses and it is one of the largest paper and packaging businesses in Southern Africa.

Mpact was known as Mondi Packaging South Africa and has 42 operating sites, 22 of which are manufacturing operations, based in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique.

The group listed separately on the JSE and demerged from Mondi in July 2011.

In the six months to the end of June, the group reported a 3.1% increase in group revenue to R4.8billion, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation declined 21.7percent to R432.6 million because of lower domestic sales volumes in the paper and plastics businesses and higher recovered paper costs.

Revenue in the paper business grew 7.4% to R3.7bn underlying, while revenue in the plastics business decreased 8.5% to R1.2bn, because of lower sales volumes and lower average selling prices.

The group said there were no permanent Mpact Plastics employees who could perform the same or similar function offered by the permanent employees of the independent service provider to Mpact Plastics in Pinetown.

Numsa said at least 140 contract workers had been on strike because they wanted to be permanently employed and refused a R2.50-an-hour wage increment.

The group said in the week commencing September 11 some permanent Mpact employees joined the industrial action following threats of intimidation from the employees of the independent service provider to Mpact Plastics, and not as a result of solidarity as reported.