NUMSA considering legal action against MAHLE Bher after striking worker shot dead

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Striking NUMSA members picket SA Steel Mills as armed security guards (far left) look on. Four workers were hospitalised last month after being shot by rubber bullets

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) (which is affiliated to the IndustriALL Global Union) is considering taking legal action against employers automotive air conditioning and engine cooling systems manufacturer MAHLE Bher, after a striking worker was shot dead by a security guard at the factory in KwaZulu-Natal last month.

Ten workers were hospitalised after they were injured when a heavily armed guard opened fire on the strikers.
Mzamo Khoza, NUMSA regional secretary for KwaZulu-Natal, said: ‘NUMSA condemns MAHLE Bher for this unnecessary loss of life of comrade Njabulo Mpulo, the heavy handedness of its security, and the decision by the company to use heavily armed and aggressive security during a protected strike.
‘Workers have the right to strike. We will be considering legal action because we have lost one of our members.’
In another incident at SA Steel Mills, four workers were shot with rubber bullets at close range and hospitalised.
They were protesting against the dismissal of 162 workers who’d lost their jobs after going on strike.
The union wants compliance with health and safety laws to curb serious regular accidents at the company in which several workers have been killed.
NUMSA has been reminding employers that workers have the right to strike according to the South African constitution and that the Labour Relations Act (LRA) also protects this right.
The laws also protect the rights to form and join a trade union and to participate in union activities and programmes.
Additionally, the Occupational Health and Safety Act states that the employer must ensure that the work environment is safe and without health risks to workers.
However, during strike action employers have used excessive force to break strikes often injuring workers – as in these two cases that NUMSA has raised.
Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL mining director, said: ‘The use of excessive force by security companies contracted by employers is unlawful.
‘It is unacceptable that workers continue to lose their lives for exercising their right to strike.
‘This violence against striking workers negates the social dialogue and collective bargaining approaches that unions are always using to resolve labour disputes.’
Meanwhile, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) has noted that: ‘The 2.5 per cent increase in the salaries of the Public Office Bearers (POBs) is equivalent to financing extravagance.’
The POBs include top management at municipalities, parliamentary leaders, members of national and provincial executives, judges, and traditional leaders.
Though a 2.5 per cent increase is a small percentage compared to the 4.7 per cent given to the hardworking, under-staffed public servants, its value is high considering the obscene salaries they get.
‘Given their obscene salaries, this salary hike means nothing, but funding of splendour and luxurious lives Public Office Bearers are leading,’ said SAFTU.
‘In addition to the fat cheques they are getting in salaries, their expenses on housing, travel and telecommunications are covered in full or in part by allowances from government.
‘Some of them are even entitled to personal protection whose bill is footed by government. This means these government benefits insulate them from effects of crime that is exacerbated by their neoliberal policies.
‘Sadly, the salary increases for Public Office Bearers in municipalities, provincial government and national executive (cabinet) are tantamount to rewarding people for bungling the state through their incompetence, mismanagement, maladministration and corruption in the government departments and municipalities.
‘We are rewarding people for collapsing public institutions, running down the public services to the ground and denying our people basic services.
‘For instance, a hole in the middle of Bree Street in Johannesburg caused by last year’s explosion is unfixed for almost a year now. This is proof that leaders in municipalities are malfunctioning, and hiking their salaries is tantamount to rewarding failure.’
SAFTU is expecting the right-wing Democratic Alliance (DA) to reject these salary increases precisely because it was at the forefront of opposing salary increases for public servants. It called for a wage freeze in the public service.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in the Eastern Cape has pledged its support and solidarity to the victims of the recent floods that have devastated different parts of the province.
Residents of Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City were among those that were affected. The floods have caused extensive damage to infrastructure.
The Karmesh area in Kariega where seven people died was the hardest hit, followed by Wells Estate where two lives were lost. Both areas are in Nelson Mandela Metro Municipality.
One person has perished while 3,064 people have been displaced in Buffalo City Metro, mainly in Duncan village. The municipality requires 2,000 temporary structures as a result.
The union stated: ‘COSATU expresses its heartfelt condolences to those who lost family members during this period.
‘COSATU commends the intervention by the Eastern Cape Provincial Government led by the Premier, Honourable Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane, MECs of relevant departments and Mayors of the two metros in assisting the affected communities.
‘We look forward to speedy interventions that will help the affected to reorganise their livelihoods.
‘We also urge government to investigate and start rolling out initiatives to mitigate climate change as more of these inclement weather episodes are bound to occur if nothing is done.’
Meanwhile, Cosatu has warned that a coalition government between the African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) will not be beneficial to the workers.
For the first time in 30 years, the ANC has failed to obtain majority votes to form a new government.
Political parties are still engaging in talks even in some provinces where there is no outright winner.
The ANC’s votes have fallen to just over 40 per cent nationally, with voter turnout at just 58.61 per cent.
Cosatu spokesperson Matthew Parks said the DA, which won 22 per cent of the vote, supports anti-worker policies.
‘Our concern with the DA is that the DA’s election manifesto speaks about scrapping labour laws, and you have the history of the DA since 1994 working against the labour laws,’ he said adding:
‘It would be impossible for us to agree to scrapping the labour laws or any workers’ rights.
‘We are also concerned about the stability of a coalition government and what impact that would have on the ANC transformation mandate.’
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Kimberley Region has concluded and signed a five-year wage agreement on behalf of its members at globally diversified mining and metals company South32’s Hotazel Manganese Mines, in the Northern Cape.
The union says the parties agreed to the harmonisation of B-Lower level employees, effective from June 1st.
The agreement also includes increases in medical aid benefits, as well as underground and housing allowances.
NUM Kimberley regional secretary Mosepedi Sanane said: ‘As the NUM Kimberley Region, we are very much delighted to have this agreement reached within the stipulated negotiations time, which has been achieved without facilitation processes.’

  • The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, has said that a coalition government is, in his opinion, the best way forward.

Speaking last Thursday following a meeting of the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) Ramapahosa said: ‘We agreed to invite political parties to form a government of national unity as the best possible option to move our country forward.’
Ramaphosa said he’d held constructive discussions with the DA and the MK party of ex-President Jacob Zuma – which won 15 per cent of the vote in the election – as well as talks with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) led by Julius Malema who won nine per cent of the vote.
The DA has said that it will not be part of any government that includes the EFF.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has joined the likes of COSATU, SACP (The South African Communist Party) and other ANC members who have called for the ANC to reconsider its potential coalition with the DA.
This comes just a day after SACP general secretary, Solly Mapaila, said the Communist party – which is one third of the tripartite alliance – is also opposed to the involvement of the DA in coalition talks with the governing party.
Last Wednesday, Mapaila said any partnership with the DA would be against his party’s anti-capitalist agenda: ‘We support a minority government with GNU (Government of National Unity). That is the government of national unity without the role and participation of DA-led forces.
‘So we are clear about our anti-capitalist trajectory.
‘The problem we face in this country is because we have pursued over the years and have been beholden to the interest of capitalists who have always threatened us about the stability of our economy.’
Reacting to various calls for the ANC to resist the urge to get into bed with the DA, NUMSA also echoed the sentiments shared by various ANC-affiliated institutions, including some members of the ANC itself.