Workers affiliated to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) on Monday downed tools and went on strike at BMW South Africa over the changing of terms of service at the company’s Rosslyn plant in Pretoria.
Numsa said in a statement that the car manufacturing company was trying to impose a shift rotation system on workers, but do not want to pay the shift allowance which had previously been allocated to workers.
The union said BMW South Africa previously had fixed-term contract workers who were on permanent night shift and they earned a 28% night shift allowance. But under the new system, Numsa said, the company was only willing to pay them a 23% night shift allowance.
Jerry Morulane, Numsa regional secretary in Hlanganani, said the company was attempting to impose this only on workers who are paid hourly, and this was why they had made the decision to withdraw their labour in protest against these conditions.
Morulane said BMW workers who earn hourly do not bargain together with “salaried” workers, but this had not allegedly stopped the company from instituting a lockout against other groups of workers who were not participating in the strike.
“We urge the management to engage meaningfully with our demands. Instead, they are engaged in law fare and victimization in an attempt to silence workers from exercising their right to strike. BMW applied for an urgent interdict on Friday to block the strike,” he said.
“Judge Moshoana heard the application and granted it. He refused to give reasons for interdicting the strike. He deliberately stopped a protected strike and said he would not give reasons unless Numsa applied to court for his reasons.”
Morulane said they have applied for leave to appeal, and in the meantime, they were entitled to continue with the strike, because the application for leave to appeal suspends the interdict.
BMW was not immediately available for comment, but the company has applied for an urgent interdict at the labour court on Monday to block Numsa members from continuing with the strike, pending the outcome of the appeal.
– African News Agency (ANA)