Production stops as Numsa strike hits Hisense plant near Cape Town

Hisense workers place components on boards in the flat screen TV production process at the factory in Atlantis. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
Hisense workers place components on boards in the flat screen TV production process at the factory in Atlantis. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

A strike at the Hisense manufacturing plant in Atlantis, north of Cape Town, has put all production on hold for the time being, the state-owned Chinese multi-national's South African subsidiary told Fin24 on Thursday.

According to Hisense SA, there were disruptions at the plant in Atlantis on Thursday due to the strike. The company had no further comment on the matter at this time, it said.

The R350m state-of-the-art consumer electronics and home appliance manufacturing facility was launched in June 2013. It is capable of producing 400 000 refrigerators and televisions a year.

According to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), which is represented at the plant, the key reason for the strike is that a demand for a 15% increase across the board for all workers is not being met.

Alternatively, Numsa demands that Hisense must increase the rate per hour to R49.56 so that it aligns, according to the union, with an industry agreement. It wants such a rate to apply to all workers, including plant, maintenance and contract workers.
 
"The employer has demonstrated extreme arrogance and has refused to engage meaningfully with the demands. Instead of negotiating with us to resolve the strike, they have implemented a lock-out," Numsa said in a statement.

Vuyo Lufele, regional secretary of Numsa in the Western Cape, told Fin24 that a secret ballot showed that 298 of the about 300 workers were in favour of the protected strike, which is set to continue on Friday.

"Workers were already picketing on Thursday. They are unhappy that the company has not even offered them any percentage increase in response to the demand for a 15% wage increase," said Lufele.

"That has given the workers no other choice but to go on an indefinite strike. Workers are frustrated. The company can afford to pay more."

According to Lufele, there were "no incidents" on Thursday due to the strike and he did not expect any to occur on Friday either.

Colonel Andrè Traut, provincial commander: media communication of the SA Police Service, told Fin24 that the protest action at the Hisense factory was monitored on Thursday and all 300 protestors dispersed without any serious incidents.

"We are ready for any further occurrence in this regard," said Traut.

In 2018 the Hisense French Door Fridge manufactured at the Atlantis plant, won the product of the year award in an annual independent consumer survey.

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