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Neasa not fazed by Numsa, Cosatu threats

Johannesburg – The National Employers’ Association of South Africa (Neasa) is adamant that the decision by its members to engage in a lock-out of workers that participated in the recent metal industry strike will stand despite threats from both Numsa and Cosatu.

On Wednesday Cosatu in the Western Cape threatened to close down companies that are participating in the lock-out.

The threat by Cosatu Western Cape came on the same day that Numsa threatened Neasa with court action if it does not suspend the current lock-out against Numsa and four other unions.

Neasa, which has 22 members and employs about 70 000 workers, maintains that the lock-out is legal and that a right to a lock-out enjoys the same constitutional protection as the right to strike.
‘Companies in the metal industry have just endured a violent four week strike, where employees were prevented, through extreme forms of violence and intimidation, to execute their right to work,” said says Neasa CEO Gerhard Papenfus.

“There were instances where employees were dragged out of offices and assaulted, where business owners’ lives were threatened, businesses were forced to close their doors, properties damaged and interdicts obtained to curb the violence and destruction were treated with contempt.”

He said employers were forced to look on while these events unfolded, at times without police protection.

“Now that Numsa is faced with similar action, but without their members’ lives being threatened nor threats of assault nor their property being destroyed, Numsa wants to mobilise against these businesses,” said Papenfus.

They threaten to close down businesses that execute their constitutional right, according to Neasa.

“Numsa and Cosatu Western Cape clearly stand for a one-sided form of democracy. They are very quick to claim the benefits of their version of democracy and are very quick to point out any so-called undemocratic behaviour, but they are clearly not interested to illustrate democratic principles when the shoe is on the other foot,” said Papenfus.

“When the situation does not suit them, they utilise the tyranny of numbers. In all of this they, however, show their true colours.”

He said the real test comes when things happen which one cannot control.

“It then shows whether you really belief in freedom of expression and constitutional liberty, whether it comes from the heart or whether it is only something you’ll use when it is convenient to you,” said Papenfus.
“The current differences between Neasa and Numsa will not be resolved through threats and legal action, but through the appropriate channels -something Neasa was denied during the most crucial portion of the recent round of wage negotiations.”

Neasa refused to sign the offer, saying it had been sidelined in the negotiation process facilitated by the labour department.

Over 200 000 Numsa members in the metal and engineering sector downed tools on July 1, demanding a salary increase of 12%, down from their pre-strike demand of 15%.

They then revised their demand to 10%.

They also demanded a R1 000 housing allowance and a total ban on labour brokers.

In terms of the new wage deal, workers would get increases of between 8% and 10%, depending on whether they were high or low earners.

Source – Fin24