Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said it was inhumane to retrench workers during a deadly pandemic, especially during Christmas. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said it was inhumane to retrench workers during a deadly pandemic, especially during Christmas. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Numsa picket to help workers who were laid off

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published Jan 19, 2021

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Cape Town - Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) joined the nationwide picket outside Macsteel offices in Bellville, against the retrenchment of almost 100 employees during the pandemic.

The union demanded that the 99 employees, who were forcefully retrenched, be reinstated immediately, under the same conditions they had before being retrenched.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said it was inhumane to retrench workers during a deadly pandemic, especially during Christmas.

“We are convinced that Macsteel is using the pandemic to boost their profit margins. They have previously retrenched workers and the savings they made from job cuts were used to pay managers and executives generous bonuses and packages,” he said.

Regional secretary Vuyo Lufele said Numsa members decided to put tools down in defence of their jobs.

“Macsteel management is hellbent on dismissing workers through what they call a retrenchment, pleading that they do not have resources because of Covid-19. We believe that there is no such thing and this company has the capacity to keep workers employed throughout.

“Therefore, the workers have come to the conclusion that the only defence they have, to ensure justice for the 99 employees that have been retrenched, is to protest. Numsa still want to engage management on the rationale behind the retrenchments,” he said.

In a statement, Macsteel said it regrets the need for the retrenchments in its continued efforts to adapt to worsening economic conditions, and remain viable and sustainable. It said the company was faced with a depressed steel sector and broader economy prior to the pandemic, which now further exacerbated it.

“Macsteel announced its intention to retrench staff in June last year and since then has consulted extensively with trade unions, including Numsa and non-unionised parties, in attempts to minimise the unfortunate implementation of Section 189A retrenchments.

“We have consulted in accordance with the spirit and letter of the law to reach consensus on the latest decisions, including possible alternatives. Our priority within these consultations and ultimate decisions has been to protect the remaining jobs at Macsteel,” the statement said.

The company said the retrenched workers will not be reinstated as the unions demand, adding that those that remained employed and committed to the future of Macsteel will be fairly treated.

Cape Argus

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