Toyota workers shut down Prospecton plant over non payment of incentive bonuses

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo Time of article published Jan 31, 2020

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Durban - Thousands of workers have downed tools at the Toyota manufacturing plant in Prospecton, in southern Durban, over the non-payment of annual incentive bonuses.

Workers who gathered outside the factory yesterday staged a march that resulted in the closure of Prospecton Road.

According to the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), which represents more than 6000 workers, there have been no operations since last week Wednesday.

KwaZulu-Natal Numsa secretary Mbuso Ngubane said that at the centre of the workers’ grievances was the employer’s unwillingness to pay incentive bonuses based on the quality of the work produced.

Ngubane said there was a standing arrangement that when workers produced vehicles at this plant and reached a certain target, they were incentivised annually.

Normally, said Ngubane, the employer would report at the company’s annual general meeting about the quality of the vehicles produced, and based on that report workers would receive their annual incentives.

“Those incentives were not paid last year in December. Workers raised this issue with management, but they were ignored, and this caused a lot of frustration. On Wednesday, they decided to stop working.”

He said that on Monday, the Labour Court ruled that the strike was unlawful and ordered workers to return to work within 24 hours.

Ngubane added that what led to the stalemate was that the employer wanted to negotiate only if workers returned to work, while the workers called for the issues to be resolved first, before resuming operations.

He said that as a union, it was negotiating from a position of weakness as its members had defied a court order, but it had a responsibility to them.

“We are going to try tomorrow (today) morning to see if we can reach a certain agreement with the employer. We will continue pursuing both parties, and hopefully we will reach an agreement,” he said.

Toyota confirmed the interdict, saying it was engaging with Numsa structures, both internally and externally, to end the unlawful strike, and to allow the company to address the issue relating to the non-payment of incentive bonuses within the agreed processes of the company’s Masibambane Pact.

“Unfortunately, efforts to encourage striking members to return were unsuccessful and thus necessitated the application for an urgent interdict. Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) closed the Prospecton Plant today (yesterday) as there were insufficient employees for production to take place,” said TSAM manager of corporate communications, Mzo Witbooi.

Witbooi said the company was committed to addressing this issue and was willing to engage the union to convince employees to return to work. “Each day of stoppage is disadvantageous to both the employees and the company,” he said.

The Mercury

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