Numsa strike threatens plastic industry

Members of Numsa march for better wages in Cape Town. (Nardus Engelbrecht, Sapa)
Members of Numsa march for better wages in Cape Town. (Nardus Engelbrecht, Sapa)

Cape Town - The South African plastics industry has condemned the strike by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) that has been marred by violence and intimidation.

The Plastics Convertors Association of SA (PCASA) said although it was excluded from the strike, incidents of violence at plastics manufacturing sites across the country were reported.

It said that the industry was not involved in the strike because of wage settlements reached earlier this week between employers’ associations and labour unions.

"However, all of these plans have now been threatened due to the unlawful strike action,” said PCASA CE0 Johan Pieterse

He said the new Numsa-led strike is "completely illegal and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms”.

"A double-digit demand plus the losses suffered due to the unprotected and unlawful strike could have a potentially disastrous effect on industry," said Pieterse.

The domestic plastics industry contributes 1.6 % to the GDP, over 60 000 jobs to people and has a combined turnover of some R50bn.

Pieterse said the plastics manufacturing in South Africa is already battling for survival due to the threat of cheap imports from the Far East, high electricity and operating costs and labour costs.

"The ongoing strike action could have a very negative impact on the cost of plastic packaging, which would ultimately mean the consumer would end up paying more for daily essentials such as milk and dairy products, bread, fruit, vegetables and other groceries which are packaged in plastic in order to extend their shelf life, prevent breakage and increase shelf appeal," he added.

PCASA also confirmed that it was applying for an interdict against Numsa and its office bearers, in an effort to stop them from inciting violence.

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