Thousands of plastic sector employees get permission to strike


The plastics industry has suffered a major blow to its operations.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has won a victory to engage in a protected workers strike. About 10 000 workers fall under Numsa, but a total of 30 000 employees downed tools this week.

On Friday the Labour Court in Johannesburg granted Numsa and its members permission to continue with the legally protected strike, despite an application by The Plastic Convertors of South Africa and The National Employers Association of South Africa to block the strike, which was brought to the court on Wednesday.

The strike, which began on Monday, is in line with the grievances which spread throughout the industry and have been put forward by workers who are currently employed in the plastics sector.

The province most affected by this is KwaZulu-Natal, where a majority of the plastics manufacturing companies operate. Numsa is demanding the same rights be granted for employees as the engineering sector, represented by the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council.

In September last year, City Press reported that paper and plastics packaging maker Flexible Plastics and Packaging in Pinetown had received major backlash by the union for the way it was treating its employees.

Some of the grievances that were raised by its employees included that employees were only receiving R9 an hour pay, and that the company was racist towards its black employees and favoured its Indian employees.

Read: Plastics company’s racism, low wages unacceptable – Numsa

The strike will continue, with efforts by Numsa to intensify its bid to get workers’ rights seen to.

“All our regions will spend the next few days mobilising all workers in the plastics sector. We are once more making a clarion call to all workers in the plastics sector to join the strike and intensify it until the employers come to the table and make and offer that will resolve the current strike,” Numsa said on Friday morning.

The union has reiterated the call for workers to unite, and that industry role-players need to all come together in order to find a feasible solution towards the demands, which have been brought forward by the employees.

“This court judgment is the first victory in this battle, but we have not yet won the war. We can only succeed if all workers in the sector, regardless of whether they are Numsa members or not, unite behind us in the demands which we are making,” the union said.

Avantika Seeth
Multimedia journalist
City Press
p:+27 11 713 9001  e:
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