JOHANNESBURG – The Labour Court in Johannesburg on Friday ruled in favour of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and dismissed an urgent application by employers to interdict a strike in the plastics industry.
This comes after more than 10,000 Numsa members on Monday embarked on strike to demand a living wage and improved working conditions in the sector.
Numsa argued that workers in the plastics sector are facing major reduction in wages, a minimum from R40 to R20 per hour while working hours have increased from 40 to 45 per week, as well as the removal of benefits and conditions which took years to negotiate under the Metals and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council, the MEIBC.
The strike affected over 450 plastics companies nationally. As a result, the Plastic Convertors of South Africa (PCSA) went to court to request an urgent interdict to block the strike.
During the strike, Numsa said the employers claimed that the industrial action was illegal in an attempt to victimize workers and stop them from making their demands.
Irvin Jim, Numsa’s general secretary, said Friday’s court judgment was the first victory in this battle, but the war was not won yet.
Jim said the only way to stop the strike was to give in to the demands of the workers, engage meaningfully with them on these demands, and stop with frivolous legal battles.
“We welcome the decision by the Labour Court which confirms that the strike in the plastics sector is a legal strike. We condemn once again the attempts by employers in the plastics sector to silence our members and stop them from exercising the right to strike.
“In the meantime, we will be intensifying the strike. All our regions will spend the next few days mobilizing all workers in the plastics sector. This strike is a legally protected strike for all workers.”