The strike at Continental Tyre SA is over, but changes in the shift pattern means there is an excess of plant workers. Photo: Reuters

Johannesburg - The almost four-week strike at the Port Elizabeth manufacturing plant of Continental Tyre South Africa (CTSA) over weekend pay rates is over, but the deal reached is likely to result in the retrenchment of about 120 workers at the plant.

CTSA currently employs more than 1 600 workers.

Attie Higgs, CTSA’s human resources manager, said yesterday that agreement had been reached between the company and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) on Friday and full production had resumed on Saturday.

Higgs confirmed that the pay agreement and changes to the shift pattern in the plant would result in excess manning at the plant and an estimated 120 workers would have to be retrenched.

He said it was difficult to state when CTSA would commence with the retrenchment process, but confirmed it would “be soon”.

Higgs said it still had to decide the basis on which workers would be retrenched, adding that it could not only be on “a last in, first out” basis because CTSA had to take its skill requirements into account.

He said CTSA would try to get consensus with Numsa on the retrenchment process and the union had acknowledged that the company had to reduce its headcount because of the changes to the shift pattern.

Phumzile Nodongwe, the regional secretary for Numsa in Port Elizabeth, was unavailable for comment yesterday, but previously told Business Report that the new shift pattern meant about 130 workers were facing retrenchment.

Nodongwe said at the time that Numsa had informed CTSA that any retrenchments had to be dealt with in terms of the provisions of the Labour Relations Act.

The strike began on April 15 over demands that shift workers who only worked on Saturdays and Sundays in a five-shift pattern at the plant be paid time-and-a-half on Saturdays and double time on Sundays.

These workers were being paid normal wage rates for Saturday work and time and a half for Sunday work.

The agreement reached between CTSA and Numsa has resulted in the change to a four-shift pattern and all its employees working two out of every four weekends and being paid time-and-a-half for Saturday work and double time for Sunday work.

Dieter Horni, the managing director of CTSA, said the company was pleased an amicable agreement could be reached with Numsa.

“A level of business realignment will be necessary to accommodate the new shift model and increased wage demands by Numsa,” he said.

CTSA lost between R7 million and R10m a day because of lost production for the duration of the strike. Horni said CTSA would now review and table its losses to place corrective measures in place for the sustained competitiveness of the business within the industry.

He added that through proper planning and the professionalism of the teams, CTSA had been able to meet the needs of its original equipment clients and replacements markets with minimal disruption. - Business Report