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Nissan SA wants to resolve Numsa grievances as ‘quickly as possible’

Nissan Navara is manufactured at Nissan’s plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria. Picture, File.

Nissan Navara is manufactured at Nissan’s plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria. Picture, File.

Published Jun 24, 2022

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Nissan South Africa yesterday has confirmed the planned picket action of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), saying it is working to resolve the matter as “quickly as possible”.

Numsa has issued a statement yesterday and has said that its members at Nissan South Africa in Tshwane plan to picket on Friday outside the Japanese Embassy in Pretoria to hand over a memorandum of demands on a number of grievances against the automobile company’s management in South Africa.

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Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola says the list of demands are a response to managements’ failure to engage the union on Nissan EV (electric vehicle) Ambition 2030 Vision and the lack of transparency on the future of the South African Plant amidst challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“Our members are demanding that Nissan must follow the principles of a Just Transition because some workers are likely to be displaced because the new technology is not labour intensive. Workers want to know what the plans are and whether they will be trained and upskilled to adjust to the new technology.

“There are also plans to terminate at least 150 fixed term contracts at the plant and rumours that the Nissan plant will be moved to Egypt thus threatening the livelihoods of over 1 200 workers. Nissan management has not responded to us on all these issues we have raised, which is why members will be picketing,” Hlubi-Majola said.

Wonga Mesatywa, Nissan South Africa’s corporate affairs director, yesterday said, “We acknowledge the right of employees to exercise their concerns in-line with the Labour Relations Act. Our employees are our enduring advantage and as such we remain committed to engaging in dialogue with organised labour leadership. We are working together to resolve the matter as quickly as possible, while minimising any impact on key stakeholders.”

However, Nissan South Africa refuted claims it was moving the plant to Egypt, saying that Africa had been identified as the last frontier of automotive growth and to this end, it had expansion plans across the continent.

“This is evidenced by the recent R3 billion investment into the South African manufacturing plant and skills development of employees to locally manufacture the new Nissan Navara. With a six decade legacy of producing light commercial vehicles, the strategic goal is to establish Nissan’s South African operations to be the continental light commercial vehicle (LCV) hub.”

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Regarding Nissan EV Ambition 2030, Mesatywa says Nissan South Africa is committed to providing the needs of their diverse customers.

“Our Rosslyn facility’s primary strategic role in our broader global business is focused on continuing to manufacture light commercial vehicles for the African market.”

The automobile company said the future of the EV ecosystem in South Africa, including the supply and demand, was currently at policy-formulating phase.

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“Key stakeholders which include Naamsa (National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa), which Nissan South Africa is a member of, together with government and worker representatives such as Numsa are actively co-creating the country’s EV policy. It is the policy that will guide OEM (original equipment manufacturer) activity going forward,” Mesatywa said.

It is incorrect that 150 workers have been released, Mesatywa has said, clarifying that there are a number of fixed-term contractors in its manufacturing operations whose fixed-term contracts have come to an end.

“Resourcing needs are currently being reviewed taking into account operational requirements along with micro and macro factors such as semi-conductor availability. Our employees are our enduring advantage and we remain committed to open engagements with Numsa and key stakeholders in order to find mutually beneficial resolutions,” Mesatywa said.

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