CAPE TOWN - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) on Tuesday accused Mercedes Benz South Africa (MBSA) of reneging on an agreement to absorb contract workers as full time staff after 12 months on the job.

"MBSA informed nineteen contract workers last Friday that their contracts will be terminated tomorrow on the 4th of July. This group of workers are in their eleventh month of their contracts," the union said. 

"MBSA is terminating their contracts in direct contravention of the plant agreement we have signed with them! The management of the plant has offered to extend the contracts only by three months, but still refuses to guarantee them permanent employment thereafter."

Numsa said the company had also slashed working hours, with short time and layoffs becoming the order of the day while it upgrades its plant.

It added that this flew in the face of the company's claim last week that its investment of R10 billion in the South African economy would create 800 direct jobs.

"It seems they lied to the press because they are about to cut dozens of contract jobs tomorrow, whilst at the same time, they are also reducing working hours ...If these workers are let go, then claims that MBSA is contributing to job creation and the growth of the local economy are false," Numsa said. 

"MBSA has caused unbearable misery to workers by lowering wages and outsourcing certain job functions. NUMSA will fight this battle with MBSA until the bitter end. We will do whatever is necessary to force MBSA to adhere to the terms of the plant agreement and absorb workers permanently."

The company could not immediately be reached for comment.

- African News Agency (ANA)