Numsa calls for GM boycott, demands disclosure

Time of article published May 24, 2017

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Johannesburg - Metalworkers union Numsa said on Wednesday that it was demanding full disclosure on General Motor's deal with Isuzu.

This comes after the Numsa officials met with GM employees on Tuesday in Port Elizabeth to discuss details of the company's decision to disinvest from South Africa. 

Last week, GM announced that it was disinvesting from South Africa and that it had sold its local operations to Isuzu. As a result, production and sales of all Chevrolet models will cease, and Isuzu will take over the firm's operations in Port Elizabeth. 

Isuzu will also be taking over the parts centre because it will be manufacturing bakkies and trucks. 

Since that announcement, GM has filed a notice to retrench about 600 workers out of 1500 workforce. 

Numsa general secretary, Irvin Jim, said in a statement the union was "disgusted" by the manner in which GM had conducted itself, saying the car manufacturer did not act in good faith. Jim said the number of workers likely to be retrenched would be much higher, especially because thousands of workers in related industries would be affected. 

"GM has not disclosed the full terms of the agreement it signed with Isuzu. By virtue of the fact that it acted unilaterally and refused to engage trade unions and government on its decision, our view is that this announcement is proof that it is attempting to pull the wool over our eyes," Jim said.

"The car manufacturer knows full well that before any announcement is made to retrench workers, it must consult unions 60 days ahead of time, so that we can assist to find alternatives for those workers who are to be affected by the job losses. However, GM deliberately did not engage and waited until the last minute to impose this process on workers."

Jim said Numsa will drive a campaign to boycott GM products because of job losses.

"If GM wants to sell cars in SA, it must manufacture and produce them locally, otherwise it must leave South Africa and take its products with them. We call on government to intervene and ensure that GM is not allowed to dump its products in South Africa after it has exploited workers," Jim said. 

"As Numsa, we will drive a campaign to boycott their products in light of how they treated the citizens of this country. Once GM has disclosed fully the terms of the agreement we may be in a position to put forward alternatives to mitigate against further job losses." 

However, the boycott would need to take effect quickly as GM would not, in any case, be selling any cars in South Africa (locally made or imported) after the end of this year. While Opel is set to remain in South Africa, it is no longer owned by GM after the latter sold the German brand to PSA (Peugeot) earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Jim said Numsa had agreed to participate in consultation with GM regarding retrenchments which is under the auspices of the CCMA. 

African News Agency (ANA)

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