Numsas Irvin Jim says employers must not insist that unions give up the right to negotiate at local level. Photo: San Pillay

Johannesburg - There’s no finality on when the three-week metal industry strike will end, National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) general secretary Irvin Jim said on Saturday.

Jim said they had rejected the employers’ offer and the strike was still on.

“I told the employers late last night after we could not reach consensus that we should call it a day, even though it was at night. We will discuss this matter in the Numsa NEC (national executive committee) tomorrow (on Sunday),” he said.

Jim said if employers continued insisting that unions give up their negotiating rights at local level to end the metal and engineering industry strike, it would result in the collapse of the sector’s national bargaining council.

“Employers are pushing for a situation which could be described as anarchical. We are not anarchists,” he said.

Jim delivered the keynote address to the 600 Numsa special KwaZulu-Natal regional conference delegates in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday. The two-day congress was convened to elect a new chair to replace the outgoing Basil Cele.

Voting was set to take place overnight.

Jim also fired a broadside at Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, the leader of government business, saying the dust had not yet settled on the Marikana debacle and he was now attempting to dismantle the Labour Relations Act.

Jim said the ANC deputy president wanted ballots from workers to ascertain whether or not they wanted to go on strike.

“Ramaphosa is bringing back something we defeated… during the apartheid era through stayaways. I was still a small boy then,” said Jim.

He said workers were not fools and they did not enjoy going on strike.

“Somebody tell Ramaphosa that we do not need a ballot to go on strike. Voetsek with the ballot, voetsek. We are not fools; we are not crazy. No worker goes on strike just because they want to. It is because they want better pay to support their extended families,” he said.

Jim dared both the government and the private sector to take on the workers.

“Try us and take our provident fund. They think as workers we are idiots.”

He dismissed from the outset suggestions his union’s protracted strike was sabotaging the economy.

He slammed those who had equated them to Boko Haram, the Islamic extremist group.

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Sunday Tribune